In NWI, reaction mixed on Vatican sex abuse summit
As Pope Francis called bishops worldwide to Rome last weekend for the Vatican’s first summit on clerical sex abuse, local reactions varied on what it accomplished.
Francis closed out his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing to confront abusers with “the wrath of God” felt by the faithful, end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”
But his failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more from the first-ever global Catholic summit of its kind.
Clear action is needed to ensure transparency and accountability, said Larry Antonsen, 72, a leader in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ Chicago chapter, who said an Augustinian order priest abused him at 15.
“They had a chance in Rome to do something monumental to get their credibility back,” he said. “They did nothing. They did nothing to help themselves.”
Experts: Next few months will tell
Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who were summoned to Rome after more abuse scandals sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.
The statement was more about motivating bishops in their own dioceses, said Professor Thomas Albert Howard, the Dusenberg Chair of Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University.
“If nothing happens in several months, it will have been a flop,” he said. “It’s sort of going to play out now.”
The biggest impact is what happens at the local level, said the Rev. Kevin Scalf, chairman of the theolo...