Network of Survivors of Abuse disappointed by Vatican conference

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Dr Murray Heasley says the outcome of the Vatican conference on child protection and the clerical sexual abuse crisis was a major let-down for the survivors.

Heasley is an Auckland-based spokesperson for the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and their Supporters.

He was speaking from Rome to the Otago Daily Times’ Insight.

”It displayed a tone-deafness and insensitivity to the victims of the most horrific child sex abuse that was particularly unfortunate given the reason for the summit,” he said.

Heasley said the only positive to come from events in Rome was a ”clear shift” in the narrative, towards the voices of survivors and advocates.

That included a haka performed by Heasley at St Peter’s Square, which drew international media attention and sought to show survivors were now ”warriors in a battle in which we will prevail”.

It also included support from the Ending Clergy Abuse Global (ECAG) group, which endorsed a resolution from Heasley calling on the Vatican to instruct New Zealand’s bishops to open all archives to independent scrutiny.

”New Zealand is now squarely in the global spotlight after this Rome summit,”  Heasley said.

Peter Isely, a spokesperson for ECAG, said groups demanded “concrete” measures and didn’t see them, despite the pope promising exactly that.

“Why can’t he enact zero-tolerance into church law? He has the power to do that.”

There are some who believe at least a little progress has been made. If “zero tolerance” – a phrase with many meanings – means holding bishops accountable for failures to act on abuse allegations, then the meeting demonstrated that real progress is underway.”


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