Abuse victims call on pontiff to make amends

SURVIVORS of abuse by Catholic priests have renewed calls for the Pope to hand over all information on the scandal, ahead of his visit to Britain today.

They demanded that Pope Benedict XVI “make amends” for their suffering by going further thanoffering an apology.

Peter Saunders, survivor and chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “We need the Pope to say, ‘I will hand over all the information I have about abusing priests wherever they are in the world. I will hand it over to the authorities of the countries where these people are being protected’.”

The Pope is expected to meet child abuse victims during his four-day visit. However, survivors at a news conference in London said they had not heard of anyone being offered a meeting with him.

The survivors were divided on whether they would like to meet the Pope.

Margaret Kennedy, 57, from Dublin, said she would like to talk to him, but did not want a secretive meeting behind closed doors.

She said: “Some survivors do want to meet the Pope and some want to tell him quite strongly how they feel.

“(But) we have been refused three times access to the Pope. This means the only way survivors can meet the Pope is by protesting in the street, or behind closed doors where it’s orchestrated, managed, controlled. Abuse is about control.

“The Pope is saying ‘you come to me and you don’t tell anyone what I tell you’. It’s secret, secret, secret.”

She demanded “truth, justice and accountability” from the Pope, adding: “We don’t want to hear another apology”.

The survivors also called on the Church to provide better funding for the support of victims of abuse.

Saunders said: “We need resources. The Catholic Church is the richest organisation in the world. They could make resources available, no strings attached, and I know they would have the backing of the majority of the people who still follow their particular religious faith.”

Margaret Kennedy said the Church provides only £2,000 (€2,400) a year in funding for her organisation, Ministry and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors.

She said: “When you think £20m is being spent on this visit, you wonder where that £20m is going.”

Picture: Therese Albrecht, Barbara Blaine and Barbara Doris, part of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests, and all from the US, protest outside St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh, ahead of the forthcoming visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI.


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