24 February, 2019
The sentiment was also echoed throughout the day by different Catholic leaders, each hinting at the challenge of uniting far-flung parts of a sprawling global church around a single effort to counter sex abuse.
"We have to be respectful ... of their concerns, but, at the same time, make sure that does not allow for a justification of secrecy", he said.
He also recently affirmed the church decision to defrock former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a one-time church power broker accused of abusing minors and adults.
He asked them to "listen to the cry of the little ones who are seeking justice". They said the stunt was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse.
"The first enemies are within us, among us bishops and priests and consecrated persons who have not lived up to our vocation".
"It is different in Italy because we have the Vatican just right here", he said. "Do it out of respect for the victims of these men, and do it to help prevent these creeps from abusing any more children".
"I felt like I had ruined a priest's life - that I had been responsible for breaking his vows". He died past year.
The ongoing scandals have escalated into a crisis which has touched many countries across the globe, with recent cases affecting Chile, Germany and the US. In it, the two church leaders blame "hedonistic" gay people for the rampant abuse of children while excusing the priests who are actually molesting kids.
Those gathered heard from unnamed abuse survivors, one of whom told them: "You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed - in some cases - into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith".
"I wouldn't want to put this out of the reach of all the survivors because of a handful that are in bad countries where they don't have rights and freedoms like we do here", she said.
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Also included in the proceedings: survivor video testimonials and an emotional speech by Philippines Cardinal Luis Tagle, who noted victims had been dismissed much as Jesus was before crucifixion.
A list of 21 "reflection points" written by the pope is expected to provide the basis for the development of new anti-abuse procedures for bishops. The first was that each diocese should have a "practical handbook" on steps to be taken when cases emerge. Investigations into such crimes found that offending clergy were frequently moved to other parishes while bishops swept the crimes under the carpet to avoid damage to the Church's reputation.
For decades, the Vatican has been criticized by abuse victims and their advocates for having turned a blind eye to the bishops and religious superiors who failed to punish sexual predators in the priesthood.
Looking toward Pope Francis seated on the dais near here, Sister Openibo spoke directly about his initial denial and subsequent about-face regarding the abuse crisis in Chile and accusations of cover-up made against bishops.
Phil Saviano, who helped expose the USA scandal two decades ago, demanded the Vatican release the names of abusers and their files.
Some groups of survivors voiced scepticism that any concrete action will be taken during the event, calling it a "publicity stunt" to cleanse the image of the Church.
But Anne Barrett-Doyle of bishopaccountablity.org, which tracks abuse cases around the world, said she was pleasantly surprised by the pope's opening remarks.
"Mothers and fathers have called us to account, for they simply can not comprehend how we as bishops and religious superiors have often been blinded to the scope and damage of sexual abuse of minors", he said.
ASSOCIATED PRESSBernadette Howell tells her story during a press conference in Rome, Feb. 22, 2019.