Pope Francis announces day of prayer for survivors of clerical sex abuse

Panel set up to protect victims of attacks announces series of educational events

Gabriel Samuels@gabs_samuels
Tuesday 13 September 2016 10:32
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It is not the first time the Pontiff has spoken out against gay marriage, but he has rarely intervened in national debates
It is not the first time the Pontiff has spoken out against gay marriage, but he has rarely intervened in national debates

The Catholic Church has confirmed it plans to hold a worldwide day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse, as it continues to make efforts to protect vulnerable children.

Pope Francis announced the proposal following a meeting of the panel he set up to tackle child abuse within the Church and help survivors of past attacks. The Church will also establish an educational website with information and advice.

According to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the day of prayer was suggested by an abuse survivor and could be “one part of the healing process for survivors and the community of believers”, as well as “an important way of consciousness raising in the Church”.

A spokesperson for the commission said the proposals had been discussed by clerics from around the world with Australian, South African and Filipino bishops already organising when to hold the prayer day.

In addition, the panel announced that newly-appointed bishops will get comprehensive training on how to deal effectively with the root causes of child abuse.

A series of educational talks and workshops are to be held at various countries around the world during late 2016 and 2017, with local church leaders and survivors in attendance.

The panel was established in 2014, but critics say it has done little to refer alleged paedophile priests to the police and focussed too heavily on education over action.

In February 2016 the commission was hit by the sudden departure of British anti-abuse campaigner Peter Saunders from the Vatican, who accused the panel of doing nothing to erase the culture of cover-ups within the Church authority.

In June, Pope Francis announced that clerics can now be dismissed from office if they are shown to neglect their duty of care towards vulnerable children and adults, in addition to creating a legal framework which allows for abusers to be tried in the Vatican.

Earlier this year, the pope was widely criticised for rejecting the opportunity to meet with the victims of former priest and serial abuser Marcial Maciel during a week-long visit to Mexico.

Pope Francis has previously called for paedophile priests to be handed “severe punishments” for their crimes, while making the bishops who cover up for them accountable through a new tribunal system.

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