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Bangladesh fire victims receive condolences from pope

Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb 21, 2019 / 12:19 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis has offered his solidarity and prayers to victims of a massive fire in the center of the  Bangladeshi capital, which has reportedly claimed 78 lives so far.

“His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the conflagration in the centre of Dhaka,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, Feb. 21.

“He extends his solidarity to all affected, and prays especially for the repose of the deceased and for the healing of those injured.”

The fast-moving fire swept through a densely populated historic district of Dhaka late Wednesday night, the BBC reported. Many residents were trapped, including, reportedly, a bridal party. Many are still missing and the death toll is expected to rise.

The blaze reportedly began in a chemical warehouse on the ground floor of a residential building. A witness told the BBC he saw an electricity transformer explode which set off a chain reaction of chemical explosions.

The pope also offered his encouragement to the Bangladeshi emergency personnel as they assist victims, and upon all he invoked “the divine blessings of consolation and strength.” Emergency crews reportedly battled the blaze for five hours and were hindered by narrow streets and a lack of access to water.

Fires and building collapses are a major problem in the densely populated Bangladeshi capital of 18 million residents, as major incidents in the last several years have demonstrated.

A blaze in the Nimtali district of the city killed 124 people in June 2010.

In April 2013, an eight-story garment factory collapsed near the capital, killing at least 1,136 workers and prompting demands for better oversight from Western retailers and local manufacturers. A fire in November of the previous year killed 112, and another fire killed eight in May.

Bangladesh is the world's second-largest garment exporter. Several European clothing retailers, including H&M, the single largest clothing buyer in Bangladesh, have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which obliges them to conduct safety inspections and pay for repairs at factories in the nation. Walmart, the second largest buyer, has yet to sign the agreement.

Pope proposes 21 'reflection points' for discussion at abuse summit

Vatican City, Feb 21, 2019 / 11:56 am (CNA).- Pope Francis on Thursday gave participants in a Vatican summit on protection of minors in the Church a list of nearly two dozen discussion points for actions Catholic Church leaders could potentially take in the follow-up to the meeting.

The pope said during opening remarks Feb. 21 that the criteria were formulated by various bishops’ conferences and organized by him into the list, stating they are “guidelines to assist in our reflection” and “a simple point of departure.”

The 21 points include suggestions to have periodic reviews of protocols on safeguarding, handbooks of steps authorities should take in abuse cases, provisions for facilitating the participation of lay experts in investigations, and the direction to inform civil authorities and higher Church authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, responding to questions from journalists in the afternoon on Thursday said the points are complete, and a “roadmap” for the bishops’ discussions this week.

He also said that were they to be made into concrete proposals, they would need “substantial revision.”

In regard to one point, that broaches the idea of amending the Code of Canon Law to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 14 to 16, Scicluna clarified that bishops' conferences already have the power to create their own legislation in regard to the minimum marriageable age, and that many had already raised the age to 16 for both men and women.

“The pope is suggesting making that universal law,” Scicluna said.
 
Other points the pope raised in the list were to “accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery” and to establish easily-accessible groups made up of experts, including both clerics and laypeople, to which victims can report crimes.

Several of the suggestions are on the theme of seminary formation of priests and the proper penalties for priests or religious who commit abuse.

One suggests initial and ongoing formation for seminarians and candidates for religious life, to help them “develop their human, spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal relationships and behavior.”

Another recommends observing “the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed” and another recalls the right to defense and the importance of the presumption of innocence.

“Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation,” it states.

Scicluna, a canon lawyer and adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, agreed. In reference to a question about releasing names of accused clergy, Scicluna said, “for simple allegations, it is my opinion it is premature.”

“You need a credible allegation as the lowest threshold,” he said, in order to not cause undue harm to someone’s good name. “We’re for disclosure, but in the right way. It’s legitimate to declare there are credible allegations.”

Peter Isley, victim of clergy sexual abuse and a spokesperson for “End Clergy Abuse” responded to the 21 reflection points, calling them “not very concrete points.”

“I’ll tell you what the roadmap in here is, it’s a circle,” he told journalists Feb. 21.

Isley was vocal in his opinion that the ideas presented in the list of reflection points do not go far enough in implementing “zero tolerance” against priests who have abused minors or bishops who have covered it up. “There is nothing there that wasn’t there yesterday,” he stated.

Referencing a point in the list, he said, “They put together a handbook [when] this is about the rape and sexual abuse of children!”

Isley added that he believes a priest who has abused a minor “has betrayed the priesthood,” and should not only be removed from ministry, but should have the “honor” of priesthood taken away through laicization.

If you are a bishop, “you make very, very sure, that if your priest has assaulted a child, and you know he has, that he’s not going to harm a child in the Catholic Church ever, ever, ever again,” he said.

“You take that man out of ministry, that’s the first thing, because he could harm a child. What kind of pastor wouldn’t do that?”

Scicluna said in the press conference that “punishment needs to take care of the common good, so they [clerics found guilty of sexual abuse of minors] cannot be in active ministry,” echoing a reflection point that says: “Decide that priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave public ministry.”

He added that in his opinion, however, the decision to dismiss a priest from the clerical state, also called laicization, should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

At the presser, Scicluna also noted that while there is currently no compiled statistics on abuse cases being handled in the CDF, the material exists. He said that he recently spoke with Cardinal Luis Ladaria, CDF prefect, and he said the possibility exists for those statistics to be compiled, contextualized, and published “in the near future.”

Libel damages paid to UK pro-life charity

London, England, Feb 21, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- A British pro-life charity has been awarded thousands of pounds in a court case after a local government council made libellous statements about the group last year.

 

Lambeth Council in south London paid £5,000 to Life, a non-sectarian pro-life organization, after the UK’s High Court ruled that statements from the council were libellous and damaging.

 

News of the payment was released in a statement read in the High Court Feb. 19, with lawyers representing Life relating the distress the council’s actions had caused to staff and volunteers.

 

The libel case centered on events at the Lambeth Country Show held in July last year, when organizers at the event disassembled the stall operated by Life and evicted staff and volunteers from the grounds.

 

The eviction followed a series of tweets by Lambeth Council member Ed Davie in response to several twitter users who objected to the pro-life organization being permitted to have a stall at the show.

 

Davie said in July that Life “wasn’t officially allowed” to exhibit at the show, were “not on the approved list of exhibitors,” and that he would “make sure” they were not permitted to remain at the grounds during the festival.

 

The annual event was held in Brockwell Park, south London, and was attended by approximately 150,000 people over the course of the weekend of July 21, 2018.

 

Davie went on to claim that Life had used “inaccurate information” in their application to exhibit at the show. Lambeth Council’s official Twitter account repeated that allegation later that day.

 

The claims against Life were repeated in the national press in subsequent days.

 

Life offers information and support to women in crisis pregnancies and provides accommodation for homeless pregnant women.

 

The organization said they explicitly described themselves as “a pro-life charity” in their application. Their submission to Lambeth Council included pictures of similar stalls they had run at past events. Their application was submitted in January 2018, and approved by the council in April.

 

Anne Scanlan, Life’s Director of Education, told CNA in July that “nothing on our stall was offensive.”

 

“There were lifelike fetal models and pictures of the unborn baby at different gestational stages which can be seen on any pregnancy website, including the National Health Service,” Scanlan said.

 

On Tuesday, Liz Parsons, Head of Advocacy for Life, called the damages “a victory for common sense and freedom of expression.”

 

“In a climate where the prolife voice is being shut down by local authorities across the country, we want to be clear that we are not going anywhere. For almost five decades we have stood firm in our provision of support for women and advocacy for the life of the unborn,” she said in a statement released by Life.

 

“The stall at Lambeth sought to educate people about the unborn baby and advertise our care services for pregnant women, including those who are homeless or in need of emotional and practical support. We must, and will challenge any organisation which tries in any way to impede this important work.”

 

Lambeth Council released a statement on the announcement of the settlement this week.

 

“Lambeth Council and Life reached a settlement on October 12, 2018 in relation to threatened claims arising from the removal of Life’s stall from the 2018 Lambeth Country Show. Lambeth agreed to pay Life £5,000 in damages, publish an apology on Twitter and has undertaken not to publish, or cause to be published, the same or similar words to those originally tweeted by the Council on July 22, 2018.”

Covington Catholic student sues Washington Post over Nathan Phillips story

Covington, Ky., Feb 21, 2019 / 10:39 am (CNA).- Attorneys for Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann announced they filed a $250 million dollar lawsuit against the Washington Post after the newspaper reported that Sandmann harassed a Native American man following the March for Life.

The suit alleges that the Washington Post “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann.” They are seeking “compensatory and punitive damages.”

“This is only the beginning,” said the attorneys in a statement. Sandmann is being represented by attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry from the law firm Hemmer DeFrank Wessels.

The attorneys said are seeking $250 million as that was the amount Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid when his company, Nash Holdings, bought the Washington Post back in 2013.

A short video published to Twitter in January appeared to show Sandmann, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, standing in close proximity to Native American activist Nathan Phillips and smirking while Phillips changed and played a ceremonial drum.

Phillips was in Washington, D.C. for the Indigenous Peoples’ March, and the incident occurred near the Lincoln Memorial. Phillips told the media that the students had swarmed him, and had repeatedly chanted “build the wall” or “build that wall.”

The video quickly went viral, and many people called for the suspension or expulsion of Sandmann and his classmates as a punishment for their seemingly disrespectful behavior.

Sandmann’s diocese, as well as his high school, initially published statements condemning the behavior in the video.

As the weekend progressed, however, additional video was discovered that showed a far more nuanced context to the encounter between Phillips and Sandmann.

The new footage showed that Sandmann and his classmates had been harassed by members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, and began a counter-chant of their student section chants in an effort to drown out the Black Hebrew Israelites. The students denied chanting “build the wall,” and that chant could not be heard on various videos of the incident.

Additionally, video showed that Phillips had wandered into the crowd of Covington Catholic High School students - not the other way around - and had began beating a drum in Sandmann’s face.

In a statement released the day after the video went viral, Sandmann said that he had smiled in an effort to diffuse the tension of the situation and show that he was not a violent person.

The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School both withdrew their statements condemning the students. Bishop Roger Foys of Covington spoke to Covington Catholic students and apologized for his premature response to the incident.

A third-party investigation into the Covington Catholic students came to the conclusion that they had not instigated the encounter and that there was no evidence of them making any offensive or racist statements.

 

Fighting With My Family

California bill would remove reporting exemption for priests in confessional

Sacramento, Calif., Feb 21, 2019 / 09:00 am (CNA).- A state senator in California introduced a bill Wednesday which would seek to force priests to violate the sacramental seal of confession in suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. Clergy are already mandatory reporters in the state of California, but there is a legal exemption for material disclosed in the confessional.

 

Senator Jerry Hill announced Bill 360 in the California senate on Feb. 20.

 

“Individuals who harm children or are suspected of harming children must be reported so a timely investigation by law enforcement can occur,” Hill said in a statement announcing the bill.

 

More than 40 professions, including clergy, are already covered by state law requiring them to notify civil authorities in cases of suspected abuse or neglect of children. The current legislation provides an exemption for “penitential communications” between an individual and their minister if the requirement of confidentiality is rooted in church doctrine.

 

The Code of Canon Law states that “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” A priest who intentionally violates the seal incurs an automatic excommunication.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “every priest who hears confessions is bound under severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him,” due to the “delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons.”

 

Despite the centrality of the sacramental seal to Church teaching and discipline, Hill insisted that there should be no recognition of the privileged nature of confession in the law.

 

“The law should apply equally to all professionals who have been designated as mandated reporters of these crimes — with no exceptions, period. The exemption for clergy only protects the abuser and places children at further risk,” Hill said.

 

A spokesman for the California Catholic Conference told local media that the bill clearly targeted essential religious freedoms.

 

"Getting the government in the confessional has nothing to do with protecting children and has everything to do with eroding the basic rights and liberties we have as Americans," said Steve Pehanich in a statement for the conference reported by local news outlets.

 

The California bill is not the first attempt to compel priests to violate the sacramental seal. A Royal Commission investigation into child sexual abuse in Australia last year recommended that legal exemptions be removed for clergy who learned about abuse in the confessional.

Clericalism, abuse of power, at heart of sex abuse crisis, cardinal says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is a call for bishops to unmask the deep-seated clericalism that placed protection of the institution of the church above the sufferings of victims, said the head of the council of Latin American bishops.

Addressing Pope Francis and nearly 190 representatives of the world's bishops and religious orders Feb. 21, Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, president of the council known as CELAM, said that bishops must recognize that "serious errors" in the exercise of authority have "increased the severity of the crisis."

"A brief analysis of what has happened shows us that it is not only a matter of sexual deviations or pathologies in the abusers, but that there is a deeper root too," Cardinal Salazar said. "This is the distortion of the meaning of ministry, which converts it into a means to impose force, to violate the conscience and the bodies of the weakest. This has a name: clericalism."

Delivering the third and final presentation of the first day of the Feb. 21-24 Vatican meeting on the protection of minors in the church, Cardinal Salazar spoke about the crisis in the church and the responsibility of bishops to face "conflicts and tensions" and instead act decisively.

The cardinal said that when faced with cases of abuse, a clerical mentality within the church has led bishops to act like salaried workers who "upon seeing the wolf coming, flee and leave the flock unprotected."

"And we flee in many ways," he explained. By "trying to deny the dimension of the denunciations presented to us; not listening to the victims; ignoring the damage caused to the victims of abuse; transferring the accused to other places where they continue to abuse; or trying to reach monetary settlements to buy silence."

To understand the full depth of the crisis, he continued, bishops must stop looking at outsiders as the cause of the damage within the church and recognize that "the first enemies are within us, among us bishops and priests and consecrated persons who have not lived up to our vocation."

Bishops, he added, must also stop minimizing the crisis by asserting that "abuses occur on a larger scale in other institutions," because the existence of abuse outside the church "can never justify the occurrence of abuses in the church."

"There is no possible justification for not denouncing, not unmasking, not courageously and forcefully confronting any abuse that presents itself within our church," Cardinal Salazar said.

Bishops also have a responsibility to guide priests and consecrated men and women their diocese toward holiness and establish a close relationship with them, beginning during the time of their formation.

However, when it comes to clergy and religious people who have abused, bishops must adhere to the protocols established by their bishops' conference that respect both civil and canon law and help "to distinguish between sin subject to divine mercy, ecclesial crime subject to canonical legislation, and civil crime subject to the corresponding civil legislation," Cardinal Salazar said.

Today, he said, "it is clear to us that any negligence on our part can lead to canonical penalties, including removal from ministry, and civil penalties that can even lead to imprisonment for concealment or complicity."

Finally, Cardinal Salazar told the bishops that they have a responsibility to be close to the people of God and a duty to listen to them, especially those who have suffered abuse.

"One of the first sins committed at the beginning of the crisis was precisely not having listened with open hearts to those who charged that they had been abused by clerics," he said.

Among the most egregious ways that some bishops have acted toward victims was by "minimizing the pain and damage" of the abuse by thinking that the only motive for survivors to report abuse was "to seek financial compensation."

"'The only thing they are looking for is money' was the recurrent phrase," the cardinal said. "There is no doubt that accusations are sometimes orchestrated. There is also no doubt that on many occasions attempts have been made to reduce the redress to the victims in terms of monetary compensation without taking into account the true scope of that reparation."

Nevertheless, while money "can never repair the damage caused," the church has a responsibility to offer compensation so that victims can afford psychological treatment and to provide economic support to those who cannot work due to the trauma of their abuse.

"The responsibility of the bishop," he said, "is very broad and covers many fields, but it is always inescapable."

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Cesareo urges greater role for laity in church's response to abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Laypeople must be involved in a "more meaningful and influential role" to help Catholic bishops create "an environment of safety within the church," the chairman of the National Review Board said in an opinion piece published by The Boston Globe.

Writing Feb. 19, two days before Pope Francis convened an unprecedented four-day gathering of bishops from around the world to discuss the protection of minors in the church, Francesco Cesareo said the heightened role of laity would assist bishops in their response to clergy sex abuse.

Citing signals from "Rome itself that expectations for outcomes (from the meeting) should not be high," Cesareo cautioned that "it is difficult to imagine that concrete universal norms will emerge from this gathering, given the diversity of cultures and perspectives" that will be present.

Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board since 2013, then made the case for a greater role for laity as the bishops work to rebuild trust in the church hierarchy.

He wrote that "at this time in the church's history, it is necessary to acknowledge the co-responsibility of the laity for the church by increasing their role in assisting the bishops and the clergy who do not have experience in preventing and responding to allegations of abuse."

"The church should not fear such engagement by the laity, but rather welcome it," he wrote.

The all-lay National Review Board was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 to oversee compliance by dioceses with the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." It has no role in oversight of bishops.

In his appeal, Cesareo, president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, said that the bishops' response to the sex abuse crisis "has been incomplete."

The column pointed to the loss of trust among laypeople and clergy "in the ability of their shepherds to lead."

He also cited abuse allegations described in last summer's Pennsylvania grand jury report, "with its limitations," and revelations about former Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, who was removed from the priesthood by the Vatican Feb. 16, which Cesareo said demonstrates the abuse crisis "transcends sexual abuse of minors." McCarrick faced credible accusations he abused minors more than 60 years ago but also allegations he was sexually inappropriate with seminarians.

"(This) represents a system failure to protect the most vulnerable and hold aggressors accountable," Cesareo said.

The column also called on the bishops meeting in Rome to discuss and give "serious consideration" to proposals that would hold bishops accountable for their actions which were to have been presented to the entire body of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November. The proposals were withdrawn as the bishops opened their fall general assembly at the request of Vatican officials, surprising many of the prelates in attendance.

"Allowing our bishops to respond to the current crisis in a substantive way is critical if the church is going to begin to heal," he said.

Cesareo suggested several key roles for laypeople who serve on a diocesan review board or other "external entity" as they work with bishops.

First, he said, laity can assist bishops in thoroughly reviewing diocesan and seminary files and sharing them with the public. "It is the public's right to know of those who have been credibly accused of abuse," he wrote.

Numerous U.S. dioceses and archdioceses have conducted such reviews and released the names of clergy against whom credible allegations of abuse have been made. Other dioceses are continuing their reviews.

"Next, there must be full accountability of all bishops, including those who have abused their positions of power by ignoring credible allegations of abuse, buy committing abuse themselves, or by having engaged in sexual misconduct or harassment," Cesareo said.

The review board chairman said such accountability "must include investigations of all allegations regarding bishops by a lay commission that has independent authority and that can report the findings of their investigation to the (papal) nuncio (in Washington)."

He added that a third-party reporting system would provide a way to report "allegations of abuse, cover-ups or sexual misconduct by bishops outside of an independent from church bureaucracy."

"If bishops are found to have failed in their responsibility to protect the vulnerable, there must be consequences," Cesareo said.

In addition, Cesareo called for another revision of the charter so that bishops fall within its oversight. He said strengthening the regular audit of dioceses to determine compliance with the charter also was needed.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: At summit, survivors expose 'cancer' of clergy sex abuse

IMAGE: CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "Every time I refused to have sex with him, he would beat me," an abuse survivor from Africa told Pope Francis and bishops attending the Vatican summit on child protection and the abuse crisis.

The meeting began Feb. 21 with the harrowing stories of survivors of sexual abuse, cover-up and rejection by church officials.

The pre-recorded testimonies of five survivors were broadcast in the synod hall; the Vatican did not disclose their names, but only whether they were male or female and their country of origin.

In the first testimony, a man from Chile expressed the pain he felt when, after reporting his abuse to the church, he was treated "as a liar" and told that "I and others were enemies of the church."

"You are physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed -- in some cases -- into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith," he said.

Comparing the abuse crisis to a cancer in the church, the survivor said that "it is not enough to remove the tumor and that's it," but there must be measures to "treat the whole cancer."

He said he prayed that those who "want to continue to cover up" would leave the church, giving greater space "to those who want to a create a new church, a renewed church and a church absolutely free from sexual abuse."

A woman from Africa recalled the humiliation and suffering she endured when she was sexually and physically abused by a priest beginning when she was 15; he made her pregnant three times and each time forced her to have an abortion.

"At first, I trusted him so much that I did not know he could abuse me. I was afraid of him and every time I refused to have sex with him, he would beat me," she said. "And since I was completely dependent on him economically, I suffered all the humiliations he inflicted on me."

"It must be said that priests and religious have a way of helping and at the same time also destroying," she said. "They have to behave like leaders, wise people."

Another testimony was offered by a 53-year-old priest from Eastern Europe who, although grateful to God for his vocation, continues to bear not only the wounds of the abuse he suffered as teenager but also the wounds of the rejection he experienced after reporting it to his bishop.

Initially, the bishop did not respond at all, so, the priest said, he reported the abuse to the nuncio.

When he finally did meet the bishop, he recalled, "he attacked me without trying to understand me, and this hurt me."

"What would I like to say to the bishops?" the priest asked. "That they listen to these people, that they learn to listen to the people who speak. I wanted someone to listen to me, to know who that man is, that priest, and what he does."

A U.S. survivor told the bishops that what wounded him the most "was the total loss of the innocence of my youth and how that has affected me today."

"There's still pain in my family relationships," he said. "There's still pain with my siblings. I still carry pain. My parents still carry pain at the dysfunction, the betrayal, the manipulation that this bad man, who was our Catholic priest at the time, wrought upon my family and myself."

The church, he added, needs leadership, vision and courage from bishops to fight the scourge of abuse and "to work for resolution, and work for healing and work for a better church."

The final testimony was delivered by man from Asia who said he was "abused over 100 times" and continues to endure "traumas and flashbacks" that have caused him difficulty in living his life and connecting with other people.

Bishops and heads of religious orders, he said, must take concrete action to ensure that clergy members who abused are punished.

"I ask the bishops that they be clear on this matter because this is one of the time bombs occurring in the church in Asia. If they want to save the church, we have to work together and make the perpetrators give themselves up," he said.

"As Jesus always said, we need to 'be like children,' not sexual abusers of children."

At a briefing with journalists Feb. 21, Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said that although he had listened to many survivors and their stories of abuse, he was nevertheless "surprised at the way tears, as it were, welled up."

"I had never heard them in the extraordinary context of this gathering and, frankly, in the presence of the pope," Archbishop Coleridge said. "So, the setting itself added a whole new power and, in a sense, another dimension to hearing these voices that spoke very briefly, but very powerfully and very deeply and struck just the right note on the first morning of -- not just a meeting -- this journey of exploration."

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who handles abuse cases as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he and the other bishops at the summit "were all quite taken by the testimony of the different victims."

"We could hear voices that were emotional, powerful and, I think, we needed to hear victims. I have always said that in order to understand the gravity of the situation, you need to listen to victims, we need them, because that is sacred ground," Archbishop Scicluna told journalists.

Gathering the voices and experiences of survivors was no easy task, but it was necessary for bishops to grasp the magnitude of the crisis as well as the damage survivors have and continue to endure, said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a professor of psychology and president of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Bishops, he said, needed to listen "to survivors and victims from all continents, in different languages so it becomes clear that this is not a North American or Central European problem. They were searing, brutal, honest testimonies and nothing was spared."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Ignorance, Sheer Ignorance

  The Left is becoming a stronghold of ignorant yahoos:   Just outside downtown Dunn, N.C., a historic antebellum-style house honors Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, a hometown hero often described as the father of the U.S. Army’s airborne infantry.… Continue Reading