After a series of scandals that became public, revealing the details of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups within the Church, a four-day summit of the Catholic Church on child sexual abuse concluded with promises to bring new laws and concrete actions that would protect children. Some such actions include setting up task forces to help episcopal conferences and dioceses address this issue, and producing handbooks detailing the responsibilities and duties of bishops when handling cases of abuse.
‘We are facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere and affecting everyone,’ the Pope said. In his closing remarks, the Pope went on to add that ‘the one thing certain is that millions of children in the world are victims of exploitation and of sexual abuse. The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility. From today, the Church’s aim will thus be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are.’
‘At times we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy. We have been our own, worst enemy,’ the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge noted in his remarks.
Survivors and advocacy groups expressed disappointment over the summit outcomes, calling for the Vatican to order bishops to implement the laws already in place, and remove those who have already broken the law to prevent further abuse.