A Boston clergy sex abuse survivor and her lawyer are reacting after reading the letter from Pope Francis condemning the abuse and cover-up in the Catholic church. The letter was released by the Vatican Monday following a grand jury report that found more than 1,000 clergy abuse victims in parishes across Pennsylvania.
Alexa MacPherson said she was sexually assaulted for six years as a child by a priest in Dorchester. She said the letter is not just too late, it is not enough.
"There wasn't anything concrete in that letter," MacPherson said. "It was just we need to move forward, this is the past, we don't want this to happen again. What are you doing?"
"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them," the letter said in part.
The pope went on to say he is in favor of "implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable."
Catholics in Boston were reacting while leaving Masses on Monday.
"Forgiveness is what Christ asks us to do, we have to forgive," parishioner Barbara Akanda said.
"There are so many victims, it's just horrifying," parishioner Katie Harris added. "More needs to be done."
Many said they had never heard a pope being so blunt before, but they are words Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian found insufficient.
Garabedian represented dozens of clergy sex abuse victims and filed civil lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Boston, including one on behalf of MacPherson. He said more accountability and transparency is needed for prevention to be considered a church priority.
"It's just a bunch of words meant to pacify and sweep things under the road," Garabedian said. "We need truth. Show us what you knew and when. Admit that you knew that tens of thousands of children had been sexually abused around the world, but you did nothing about it. Admit it, Pope Francis."
The Archdiocese of Boston did not comment on the pope's letter, but Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley did release a message that was read aloud at Masses over the weekend. It criticized the "clerical sins and clerical failures" that led to the clergy abuse crisis.