VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Before traveling to Rome for a major Vatican
summit on the clerical sex abuse crisis and child protection, each
participating bishop should meet with survivors of abuse, said the
committee organizing the meeting.
"The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened.
For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach
out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your
respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome to learn first-hand
the suffering that they have endured," said the organizing committee's
letter, released by the Vatican Dec. 18.
The pope had announced in September that he was calling the
presidents of the world's bishops conferences, the heads of the Eastern
Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men
and women religious orders to the Vatican Feb. 21-25 to address the
Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said having
participants meet first with survivors "is a concrete way of putting
victims first and acknowledging the horror of what happened."
"The meeting on the protection of minors," he said, "will focus on
three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency."
In November, the Vatican announced the membership of the organizing
committee: Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Oswald Gracias of
Mumbai, India; Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary
of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Jesuit Father
Hans Zollner, president of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at
the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical
Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Writing to meeting participants, they quoted Pope Francis' letter to
Catholics in August, which said, "If, in the past, the (church's)
response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest
and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and
Without "a comprehensive and communal response" to the abuse crisis,
the committee said, "not only will we fail to bring healing to victim
survivors, but the very credibility of the church to carry on the
mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world."
The members included a questionnaire for participants, but it was not
made public. The questionnaire, the committee said, was designed as "a
tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to express
their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to
identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the
future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the
Pope Francis, they said, "is convinced that through collegial
cooperation, the challenges facing the church can be met. But each of us
needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility
and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to
transparency and holding everyone in the church accountable."