Sex abuse victims meet Vatican spokesman

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vatican City, Nov 2 (IANS/AKI) Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi has met survivors of clerical sex abuse, Vatican Radio has reported on its website.

Lombardi told the group the Catholic church could and must do more to support abuse survivors and ensure all children in its care were protected. But he said paedophilia was a wider problem that remained “an intense scourge in today’s world”.

We know very well that what has happened in the Church is but a small part of what has happened and continues to happen in the world at large,” Lombardi said.

Internet pornography, sexual tourism and trafficking which exploits the poverty of people in various continents, were havens for paedophiles, he noted.

Lombardi urged victims to unite with the Church to stamp out paedophile sex abuse.

Around 100 sexual abuse victims, including Italians, Sunday marched in Rome near the Vatican to demand Pope Benedict XVI take firmer action against priests who committed abuse.

The protesters included about 55 deaf Italians from a Catholic institute for the deaf in Verona, where dozens of students say they were sodomised by priests.

“Hands off our children” and “Church without abuse” the demonstrators chanted at the protest organised at the Castel Sant’Angelo by US victims’ organisation Survivors Voice.

Victims of paedophile clergy claim the pope has not done enough to help abuse victims or implement the greater transparency and accountability the Vatican has promised in abuse cases.

Lombardi rebutted these accusations.

Not only the Pope, he said, but many Church communities in various parts of the world have done and are doing a lot, by way of listening to victims, as well as in the areas of prevention and formation”.

The abuse of thousands of children by clergy in several continents over many decades was covered up in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic church and tainted the credibility of the papacy itself.

Sunday’s protest organisers had tried to hold the march on Vatican soil but were forced to stage it nearby after the Holy See denied permission.

About 25 police officers blocked the torch-bearing protesters from walking up the wide avenue that leads to St Peters, although Vatican Radio said the protesters were allowed to leave personal messages for the pope.

It is standard Vatican practice to ban non-Vatican-sponsored events from St Peter’s Square. When Lombardi approached the group to offer his solidarity, he was reportedly sworn and spat at. He later arranged the private meeting with the two protest organisers and several other victims.

Benedict himself has faced allegation that as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, when he headed the Vatican morals watchdog and earlier as Archbishop of Munich, he failed to defrock predator priests.


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