Pope Francis will meet Irish survivors of abuse by pedophile priests, the first time he has met victims, tomorrow following a mass in the pope’s private chapel.
The six survivors drawn from Ireland, Britain and Germany will be hosted at the pope’s private residence and the meeting will be eagerly watched by survivor groups who have long called for such a meeting.
In May, Francis called the sexual abuse of children by priests a crime comparable to a “satanic Mass” and promised “zero tolerance.”
Two members of his abuse commission have close Irish ties. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Irish campaigner Marie Collins who was assaulted as a 13-year-old by a hospital chaplain will meet with the pope today before the meeting with the abused survivors.
Other members of the commission are drawn from eight countries. British and French psychiatrists, a German psychologist and an Italian cannon law professor are also members. The membership is set to be expanded to include new members from southern hemisphere countries and developing countries including the pope’s native South America, where abuse is still a taboo subject.
In May, the UN Committee Against Torture said the Church had “major failings in dealing with abuse cases” Vatican officials stated that 3,420 abuse cases had been investigated over the past decade by the Church’s Canon Law prosecutors, 848 priests defrocked and 2,572 priests ordered to “live a life of prayer or penance.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Marie Collins stated her top priority was for the Vatican to punish those bishops who have covered up for priests who raped children.
"There's no point in my mind of having gold-plated child-protection programs in place if there's no sanction for a bishop who decides to ignore them," Collins said.
"The reason everyone is so angry is not because they have abusers in their ranks. Abusers are in every rank of society. It's because of the systemic cover-up."