Abuse Survivors Seek More Progress 1 Year After Papal Summit

VATICAN CITY — Survivors of church sex abuse have descended on Rome this week, marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ summit of church leaders on preventing abuse with calls for more accountability and acknowledgment of their pain.

On Thursday, three deaf Argentines marched to St. Peter’s Square. They were among the victims of violent sexual abuse by priests in the Argentine branch of the Provolo Institute, a Catholic-run school for the deaf that also saw dozens of victims at its school in Verona, Italy.

Recently, an Argentine court convicted two Provolo priests of repeatedly violating the children — including one who also was flagged to Francis as early as in 2014 as an abuser in Verona. “Support the Provolo survivors," read a banner carried by the victims in front of St. Peter's Square.

Also marching was Mary Dispenza, a survivor of abuse by both a priest and a nun. She and members of the U.S.-based victims’ advocacy group SNAP walked to the headquarters of the umbrella group of religious sisters and secured a meeting with its executive secretary, Sister Patricia Murray.

Their aim was to request that the organization, UISG, speak out more about the unacknowledged problem of nuns who sexually abuse children and other nuns. Much of the abuse crisis has focused on priests raping and molesting children. Little has been said or done about the problem of abuses committed by nuns.

“Did we accomplish anything? I’m not sure. Sister Patricia was genuine in her concern,” Dispenza told The Associated Press in an email.

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