Pope urges action as Church confronts ongoing sex abuse scandal

sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis has emphasised the importance of supporting abuse victims amidst growing concerns over the persisting clergy sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.

During a meeting with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Pope addressed the need for continued efforts in aiding victims.

The meeting came as recent events outside the Vatican indicated that the scandal that has rocked the church for decades was not going away anytime soon.

Swiss abuse cases surge

In Switzerland, church officials reported a significant increase in victims coming forward following the publication of a damning report. The report included over 1,000 cases of abuse since the mid-20th century. This is despite the country’s relatively small Catholic population.

The diocese in northwestern Basel revealed a surge in suspected abuse cases. More than half the cases emerged in the last six months alone. Additionally, at least 70 cases were reported across four other dioceses in Switzerland since the report’s release.

Italian priest guilty

In Italy, a criminal court in Sicily delivered a significant verdict against a priest previously exonerated by the Vatican.

The court sentenced the Rev Giuseppe Rugolo to four and a half years in prison for charges related to attempted sexual violence against minors. The diocese, Piazza Armerina in Sicily, was also held responsible for civil damages and legal fees.

The case drew attention as Bishop Rosario Gisana was heard admitting to covering up for the priest on intercepted wiretaps. Despite attempts to distance the diocese from liability, the court found them responsible for the priest’s actions.

The Vatican’s handling of the case also came under scrutiny. It shelved the case on technical grounds as Rugolo was a seminarian at the time of the sex abuse. The decision sparked outrage, especially considering one of Rugolo’s victims had directly appealed to Pope Francis for intervention.

Listen to victims

Considering these developments, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of listening to victims in the church’s efforts to address sex abuse.

On Thursday, Francis told his child protection advisers that listening to victims was crucial to helping them heal.

“In our ecclesial ministry of protecting minors, closeness to victims of abuse is no abstract concept but a very concrete reality comprised of listening, intervening, preventing and assisting” he said in remarks read by an aide as Francis continues to recover from the flu.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is expected in the near future to release the church’s first-ever audit of safeguarding procedures and policies.


AP News

Swiss Info

CathNews New Zealand


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