Published: Sun, February 24, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Top Cardinal Admits Catholic Church Destroyed Documents On Sexual Abuse

Top Cardinal Admits Catholic Church Destroyed Documents On Sexual Abuse

Their action comes as Pope Francis gathers church leaders from around the world at the Vatican to grapple with the sex abuse crisis in the church.

"We have to be respectful ... of their concerns, but, at the same time, make sure that does not allow for a justification of secrecy", he said.

The President has repeatedly dared anyone to debunk his allegations and has called for reforms in the Catholic Church.

"Hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice", he declared as the three-and-ahalf day meeting began. In the latest case, a group supporting victims of paedophile priests in Poland on Thursday released a report documenting almost 400 cases of sex abuse by clerics in the staunchly Catholic nation.

Leading cardinals told the four-day conference yesterday that the Church must fix the "systematic failures" that enabled sexual abuse to take root around the world, and bishops should start policing each other's behaviour.

Of course, "we can feel sad" for clerics whose offenses are being brought out into the open, Sister Openibo said, "but my heart bleeds for numerous victims who have lived with the misplaced shame and guilt of repeated violations for years".

The pope and the participants watched a video of five victims, most of whom wished to remain anonymous, telling painful stories of abuse and cover-up.

Despite the study, the Supreme Court in 2017 upheld the conviction and 15-year prison sentence for the Reverend Giulio Grassi, a celebrity priest who ran homes for street children across Argentina. But Francis realised past year he had erred.

"He gave me everything I wanted when I accepted to have sex; otherwise he would beat me", she said.

Valentina Alazraki, the longtime Vatican correspondent for Mexico's Televisa, challenged the leaders to decide whether they are on the side of the priests accused of abuse and those who cover up the crimes, or the victims.

"You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed - in some cases - into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith", the man said.

"These are all events that sharply contradict what the Church should stand for", he said.

"We humbly and sorrowfully admit that wounds have been inflicted by us bishops on the victims and in fact the entire body of Christ", Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle told the assembly.

Championing the move for better measures, Francis brought 21 proposals or "reflecting points" that work to "punish predators and keep children safe", according to ABC News. The first was that each diocese should have a "practical handbook" on steps to be taken when cases emerge.

He proposed that metropolitan bishops - who are responsible for other bishops in their area - should conduct the investigations into suspected abuse with the help of lay experts, then forward the results to the Vatican.

In Ireland, the sexual abuse scandal shattered the power of the church that four decades ago dominated Irish society. In the past four years, voters approved abortion and gay marriage, defying the Vatican.

In Chile, all of the country's bishops offered their resignations to the pope past year over a widespread cover-up. Francis accepted seven of the resignations and dismissed two others from the priesthood.

On the eve of the summit, Phil Saviano, who helped expose the US abuse scandal by priests two decades ago, demanded that the Vatican release the names of abusers and their files.

But Anne Barrett-Doyle of bishopaccountablity.org, which tracks abuse cases around the world, said she was pleasantly surprised by the pope's opening remarks. The 2016 legislation benefits those who are claiming negligence by a bishop because "they only have to denounce an objective fact: that nothing was done", Scicluna said. "That's good, but let's see how it ends up", she told Reuters.

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