Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors Push Pope for Change | NECN
2015 Papal Visit

2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis' First U.S. Visit, Sept. 22-27

Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors Push Pope for Change

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For survivors of clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. isn't about celebration, but about hope that the pope will take a stronger stance. (Published Friday, Sept. 18, 2015)

    For survivors of clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. isn't about celebration. Survivor David O'Regan says he's heard the pope ask for forgiveness, but he wants to hear more.

    "I know it's going to be difficult for survivors. It's going to be difficult for myself," said O'Regan. "When I see him come to this country, I need to see him find the courage to stand up to his apology and do the things that need to be done."

    O'Regan says that includes disciplining complicit bishops and handing over files on abusive priests.

    The Spencer, Massachusetts, man says he was abused by a priest when he was in sixth grade.

    O'Regan now heads up the Worcester-Boston chapter of "SNAP," the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

    "I desperately want to hear that he is ready to take action and do the right thing," he said. "Will I hear that or not, I don't know."

    Boston was the epicenter for the clergy abuse crisis, which began in 2002. Priests were prosecuted and Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston amid the controversy.

    Since being installed as pope, Francis has set up a special commission on sex abuse led by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

    This year, three American bishops who were criticized for not acting against pedophile priests have resigned, and experts say changes are taking place.

    "It is a big step that now, the pope's commisison on abuse has set up rules for disciplining bishops," said Philip Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News.

    Lawler says that it would be newsworthy and reassuring to survivors if Pope Francis addresses the abuse crisis when he's in the U.S., and that he wouldn't be surprised if he meets with survivors in private.

    "Remember that Cardinal O'Malley was the one who arranged the meeting the victims and Pope Benedict, so yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if he did the same thing this time," said Lawler.

    O'Regan says he and other survivors need the pope to take this crisis seriously. So far, for him, it's just been words.

    "Ever since he became pope, we've listened, we've waited, and once again, we've heard what we've heard from the last two popes - words and promises and no action," he said.

    O'Regan is still hopeful that action will come.

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