Thursday, April 17, 2008

"It" Happened

In a brief comment on a stairwell following the Pope's meeting with Catholic educators, Cardinal Sean O'Malley merely said "It was prayerful. It was emotional. I'm still trying to process it."

And "It" was....

Today at 4:15 p.m. the Holy Father met in the chapel at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C. with a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy.

The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, accompanied the group. They prayed with the Holy Father, who afterwards listened to their personal accounts and offered them words of encouragement and hope.

His Holiness assured them of his prayers for their intentions, for their families and for all victims of sexual abuse.
...more from CNS:
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican press spokesman, told journalists the meeting involved five or six victims, men and women from the Archdiocese of Boston, and lasted about 25 minutes. During the encounter, each of the victims had a chance to speak personally to the pope, who spoke some "very affectionate words," he said.

Father Lombardi said it was a very emotional meeting; some were in tears.

At the end of the meeting, Cardinal O'Malley gave the pope a book listing the first names of the approximately 1,000 victims of sexual abuse in the archdiocese within the last several decades, Father Lombardi said, so the pope could remember them in his prayers.

The pope has spoken three times about clerical sexual abuse since he left Rome April 15 for his six-day visit to the United States, expressing the sense of shame he and other church leaders feel about what he called a "tragic situation."

On each occasion, he made a point to encourage church leaders and all Catholics to help those harmed by the abuse.

Some groups criticized the pope for not visiting Boston on this trip and for not scheduling an encounter with victims. Vatican officials had not ruled out such a meeting, but indicated that if it occurred it would be very private.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, praised the victims for having "the courage to come forward and speak up" but said she did not think the meeting "will change anything."

"Kids need actions," such as punishment for those "supervisors and bishops who have enabled and covered up for predators," she told Catholic News Service.