2010-11-01 16:01:44

Vatican official meets child sexual abuse protesters

(November 1, 2010) A top Vatican official has expressed closeness with victims of child sexual in the Catholic Church who demonstrated near the Vatican on Sunday night, demanding that the Church bring to task those responsible for cover ups and do more to protect children. Some 100 victims and their supporters from the United States and several European countries had wanted to march to the Vatican with candles but were blocked by police because they did not have a permit. Dubbed "Reformation Day", the protest was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the day in 1517 when Martin Luther sparked the revolt against Papal authority that came to be known as the Reformation. Holy See’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, had gone to meet the organizers and later received 8 of them privately in his office at nearby Vatican Radio of which he is director general. The Jesuit priest left a statement with one of them, saying the initiative was a personal gesture and “not an official one.” He said that while he didn't share all of their declarations and positions, there were points for consensus. He pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI and many church communities in various parts of the world have done and are doing a lot by way of listening to the victims as well as in the matter of prevention and formation. Fr. Lombardi pointed out that the scourge of sexual abuse, especially against minors in the Church is but a small part of what has happened, and continues to happen in the world at large. He agreed that “the procedures of investigation and of intervention must be ever swifter and more effective… and that their “cry today is an encouragement to do more.” But, he pointed out that, a large part of the Church is already on the good path. Later, two of the protesters were accompanied by police into St. Peter’s Square where they left some 75 letters from abuse victims addressed to Pope Benedict and placed a dozen small stones representing abuse victims from various countries.

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