Irish survivors of clerical abuse will travel to Rome next week for a key meeting with Pope Francis The Irish Catholic has learned.
It will be the first time since his election that the Pontiff has met with those who have been abused by priests and religious to hear of their experiences. Francis has promised to continue a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to abuse.
The Irish Catholic understands that a number of Irish survivors will travel for the encounter which is expected to take place next weekend at the Vatican guesthouse where the Pope has made his home.
It is understood that they will be accompanied by survivors of clerical abuse from other parts of the world including Britain, the United States and Poland.
The encounter with the Pope, which Vatican sources say will afford survivors the opportunity to recount their suffering first-hand to Francis, will be private. Survivors will then be able to decide whether or not they want to speak to the media about the papal meeting with many expected to remain anonymous.
The Vatican sees the Pope’s meeting with survivors as a key part in hearing their experiences and assuring them that the Church is determined to continue to act decisively. It is expected that survivors will want to impress upon the Pope the importance of punishing bishops and religious superiors who fail to act to protect children or who refuse to implement the Church’s robust child safeguarding standards.
The Irish Catholic understands that the Papal meeting with survivors will take place in the context of the second meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors. The body, which includes Irish survivor and campaigner Marie Collins, is charged with advising Pope Francis on the Church’s continued efforts to ensure that robust guidelines are in place in every part of the world.