VATICAN CITY (NBC) – The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is gathering again Friday morning at the Vatican, called there by Pope Francis to deal with decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups by members of the clergy,
The morning’s session began with a recorded message from survivors, anxious to share their story and demanding action.
As leaders of the Catholic faith gather for day two of their historic summit, their focus shifts to accountability.
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle stated, “Our lack of response to the suffering of victims even to the point of rejecting them, and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution has injured our people.”
Those injuries linger for survivors like Larry Antonsen. “You know, I struggle. I struggle a lot with it. I really do,” he said.
A part of that struggle is the lack of outside help in cases of abuse. SNAP spokesperson Kate Bochte explained, “These are crimes and they should be handled and investigated by career law enforcement agents, not church officials who are appointed by the bishop.”
It’s an issue that seems to be gaining traction with some in the church. Vatican Sex Crimes Investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna said, “It is important that every allegation is investigated with the help of experts and that the investigation is concluded without unnecessary delay.”
But the delays in dealing with this crisis—for some—have lasted more than three decades, testing their faith and leaving them cautious as these meetings continue.
Bochte said, “We like to give people the benefit of the doubt that their heart is in the right place. We just haven’t seen any evidence of that yet.”
That lack of confidence is one of the reasons church leaders have gathered here. Many say reestablishing that trust with parishioners is vital to the future of their faith.