Sex abuse summit is catch-up time for much of the world


Catholic Register, 22 February 2019

It is déjà vu all over again for Canadian bishops who travelled to Rome for the Vatican’s meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.

The sexual abuse “summit” that Pope Francis convoked Feb. 21-24 in Rome, involving the presidents of more than a hundred national bishops’ conferences, was expected to garner more media attention than any Vatican event since the last conclave. But it will all be old news for Canadians.

That’s because the summit meeting will have little to offer countries like Canada which have already been dealing with the problem of priestly sexual sins and crimes for decades. The underwhelming agenda for the summit is aimed at helping other countries catch up to Canada. Actually, it really means to help countries catch up to where the Vatican said they should be eight years ago.

An attentive world expects something more than back to the future, so the coverage of the summit will be — understandably — seen as a failed initiative, to be added to a growing list of failed initiatives on sexual abuse launched by Pope Francis.

The Holy Father knows that, and so took a remarkably direct approach on his return from World Youth Day in Panama, telling journalists on board the papal flight that he wanted to “deflate” expectations. In communications strategy it doesn’t get more direct than that.

“Let me say that I’ve sensed somewhat inflated expectations,” he told the journalists. “We have to deflate the expectations to these three points, because the problem of abuse will continue. It’s a human problem.”

The “three points” are: a) to help bishops understand the pain sexual abuse inflicts upon victims; b) to teach them how to properly investigate reported cases; and c) to develop protocols for the entire Church to use in any alleged instance of abuse.

Canada’s bishops have been on that path since 1992, when it was the first national bishops’ conference to issue a report on sexual abuse. The report, From Pain to Hope, put in place the first national guidelines for dealing with allegations and protocols for prevention.

Continue reading at the Catholic Register: