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Voice of the Faithful National Statement -- Catholic Church Reform Movement Voice of the Faithful Cautions Hierarchy

World's Catholic Church leaders meet at Rome Symposium on Clergy Sexual Abuse Feb. 6

NEWTON, Mass., Jan. 24, 2012 -- The Roman Catholic Church has yet to develop an effective worldwide response to clergy child sexual abuse, even though widespread abuse was evident by the mid-1990s, exploded into crisis in the United States in 2002 and in the past few years has proven to be epidemic around the world. Church leaders worldwide will attend a symposium in Rome Feb. 6 to discuss such a response.

Voice of the Faithful cautions Church leaders that the time has come, and indeed is long past, not only for creating appropriate responses to abuse allegations in every diocese worldwide, but also for ending the secrecy and coverups that so exacerbate the crimes. Transparency and accountability are essential.
 
“Towards Healing and Renewal: A Symposium for Catholic Bishops and Religious Superiors on Sexual Abuse of Minors” is expected to draw delegates from 110 bishops’ conferences and superiors of 30 religious orders internationally.
 
Their goal in part will be to share “practical wisdom” of “experts in the fields of psychology, canon law, theology, and pastoral ministry” in order to promote a consistent, global response by the Church to reports of sexual abuse and to structure child protection policies. In this, the symposium points toward the May 2012 deadline for dioceses worldwide to develop guidelines for handling child abuse allegations.
 
The Vatican is right to bring worldwide attention and focus on this growing and continuing scandal that ruins lives and wounds the Church so deeply. The Vatican is right to seek a worldwide response to the enormous task of handling sexual abuse allegations amidst Church communities with such cultural, theological, sociological and governmental diversity. But the Vatican’s failure before now to look for global solutions and hold bishops accountable and the bishops’ actions in keeping abuse allegations secret leave VOTF without confidence that adequate guidelines will be forthcoming.
 
VOTF and other organizations and individuals that put children above institutional image will be watching closely for what comes from the symposium and May deadline.
 
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
 
Contact:
Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, 617-291-3495 Cell, nickingala@votf.org