Summit ineffective unless “victim-centred listening” at its heart

victim-centred listening

Three female survivors of sexual abuse by priests have called on church leaders preparing for a February summit at the Vatican to listen to the voices of victims and to end a “culture of cover-up.”

One of the three is Dr Rocio Figueroa Alvear, a Peruvian theologian, who is currently a lecturer in Systematic Theology at Good Shepherd College in Auckland, New Zealand.

The women were speaking at Overcoming Silence – Women’s Voices in the Abuse Crisis, a Voices of Faith event in Rome.

Figueroa, Barbara Dorris (USA) and Doris Wagner (Germany) shared personal accounts of abuse they suffered and of the resistance they faced when trying to report what happened to them in their efforts to seek justice.

The women said the February summit in the Vatican would be ineffective unless “victim-centred listening” was at the heart of the bishops’ discussions.

All 10 members of the Union of International Superiors General leadership – representing 500,000 women religious worldwide – will be attending the summit.

Survivors will not be at the meeting but will be part of the preparatory work, and be present at a penitential liturgy.

Building on the analysis and experiences of the experts who participated in the event, Voices of Faith has called for urgent action on the following points:

  1. A complete list of participants and their credentials, and the agenda of the meeting to be made public at least six weeks prior to its beginning
  2. All proceedings and voting on any documents during the meeting to be made public in order to facilitate transparency
  3. Diverse voices of women survivors and advocates should be invited to participate and be heard at this meeting. Therefore a dedicated time allocation should be given for women’s voices, such as those who spoke in Rome on 27th November.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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