Pope Francis’ Sex Abuse Summit Is Missing A Huge Opportunity To Center Survivors
Pope Francis’ highly anticipated summit on sex abuse kicked off on Thursday ― but there appears to be a glaring gap in the official list of speakers.
Of the nine individuals chosen to give presentations and offer recommendations for combating sexual abuse, none have publicly identified themselves as abuse survivors. Nor are any of them advocates representing prominent survivors’ networks.
While victims’ testimonies are woven into the summit during some key moments, there appear to be no sessions wholly dedicated to listening to survivors freely share their demands for concrete action.
This lack of representation for sex abuse survivors at a sex abuse summit would be surprising if it weren’t taking place under the auspices of the Vatican ― a notoriously hierarchical institution exclusively run by men.
“Put very simply, the church is a monarchy and has been for centuries,” Zach Hiner, the executive director of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told HuffPost. “Its hierarchy hasn’t had to be responsive to their essentially powerless constituents.”
“It’s long been and continues to be an extraordinarily insular and secretive and arrogant culture, deeply resistant to change or even discussions of change from those perceived to be on the outside,” he added.
About 190 top-ranking bishops, religious superiors and other Catholic officials from around the world have gathered in Rome this week to attend four days of lectures and workshops meant to help them prevent clerical sex abuse, care for victims and properly investigate crimes in their dioceses.
The unprecedented, high-stakes summit was convened at Francis’ order. It is an attempt to address Catholics’ reawakened concerns about bishops’ mishandling of abuse allegations, after high-profile scanda...