October 31st, 2010
09:27 PM ET

Cleric sexual abuse victims gather at Vatican

From CNN's Hada Messia in Rome:

Alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy held a candlelight vigil of solidary at the Vatican on Sunday but were not allowed to deliver letters to a bronze door outside the pope's residence.

Several dozen marchers from the United States, Asia and Europe gathered to share their stories and say more needs to be done about the long-standing problem. The Vatican said it routinely disallows such protests in the square but did allow the group to congregate on a portion of the grounds.

Organizer Gary Bergeron of Boston, Massachusetts, called Sunday "Reformation Day" and launched a petition calling on the United Nations to include sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. He said he was abused by a priest while he served as an altar boy.

The Italian contingent was primarily deaf and mute victims of sexual abuse at a Verona institute during the 1960s and 1970s. They wore T-shirts with the writing 'ENOUGH', and its Italian equivalent "Basta."

Another Bostonian at the protest, Bernie McDaid, met with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. At the time, McDaid said he had turned to drugs and alcohol in his teen years, struggling to cope with what "Father B" had done to him while he was an altar boy.

Bergeron and McDaid met Sunday evening with with Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi. The abuse survivors said they gave suggestions as to what actions the Catholic Church should take in tackling the problem.

Lombardi issued a statement calling sexual abuse a worldwide "scourge" that needs to be eliminated.

"I know you think that the Church should do more," Lombardi wrote. "I am convinced that the Church has done, and is doing a lot. Not only the Pope, with his words and examples, but many Church communities in various parts of the world."

Bergeron, who hoped to deliver letters to the pope to the door outside his residence, left them instead to the pope on the edge of St. Peter's Square, and spoke briefly to reporters Sunday night.

"The journey of the survivor is one step at a time... Today was very powerful for many survivors," he said. "This is the first time, the first time that a group of survivors this large has come together and spoken out and people have listened in Italy."

The Vatican does not allow visitors to approach the door to the pope's residence.

Catholic priests who sexually abused children "disfigured their ministry" and caused the Catholic Church "profound shame and regret," Pope Benedict XVI wrote in September, in one of his strongest statements to date on the scandal facing the Vatican.

"What has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive," the pope wrote in an open letter to men studying to be priests.

But he said that people should still be encouraged to become priests and that celibacy still "makes sense."

Campaigners for victims of abuse by priests immediately rejected the statement as "minimizing" and "mischaracterizing" the crisis, which has seen thousands of victims come forward from across western Europe and the United States.

Three independent investigations have been launched into the abuse of children by priests in Ireland, while police raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgium and a church-government working group has been set up to tackle the problem in the pope's native Germany.

There have also been accusations of abuse in the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, and other countries.

Critics say the problem is not only the abuse itself, but the cover-up of the problem by bishops.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Sex abuse • Vatican

soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. blin

    satan is at the vatican getting behind everybody

    November 2, 2010 at 5:50 am |
  2. GSA

    OMG! I am never leaving my kids anywhere near a Catholic without me or my wife close by, all these Catholics should go back to their countries and they can practice their religion there and do what they want but how dare they come over to my country and terrorize our children.......oh wait now i'm sounding like the crazy Muslim bashers on this site only towards Catholics.
    One religion has nuts blowing ppl up, another has nuts molesting little boys and the rest have nuts to commit a bunch of other craziness in this world. Believe and have faith if you want but please be wary of all orgainized religion.
    I am a Sikh and stay away from most Sikh temples (Gurdwara's) because they are filled with nuts not interested in peace, love and hard-work but indoctrinating all those who enter. Sadly that is the same with all religions big or small.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  3. Mic4life

    The church is going down. Actually the Empire of false religion is destroyed at the onset of the Great Tribulation. The stage is being set for this and it is around the world. Unfortunately, after the destruction of the empire of false religions, Babylon the Great, the political leaders and economic systems will go down (Revelation Chapter 17 & 18). It is only at the start of the great tribulation do people understand it is God’s will and doing. Unfortunately, any repentance after than time is too late (Matthew 24, Luke 17) and there will “weeping and gnashing” of teeth (Luke 13) and lamentation (Matthew Chapter 24).

    The book of Revelation indicates that God puts it into the hearts of people to hate religions and that the global empire of religion, "Babylon the Great", will be destroyed at start of the great tribulation. Religious tolerance is waning, intolerance has set in (mistrust, dislike, fear, hate), nationalism (which has characteristics similar to that of religion) is also increasing and it is global.

    Babylon the Great is an empire, and not just one or a few religions, spiritual or lack thereof idealisms, political nations,.... The stage is being set for its downfall.

    Revelation 17:1: “Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”15 And he says to me: “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. 17 For God put [it] into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out [their] one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished. 18 And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” After the fall of the religious empire, then the political and economic systems will go down as described in Revelation.

    Something to take to heart when evaluating one’s choice of religion, belief or non-belief system, political rather than a neutral stance…. Jesus indicated that the true religion will be known based on its teachings and also its members & followers. Matthew 7:” 13 “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; 14 whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it. 15 “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to YOU in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. ... 20 Really, then, by their fruits YOU will recognize those [men]. 21 “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness.

    November 1, 2010 at 8:16 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Mic4life, least you forget that the Protestant Church is also guilty of some pretty heinous crimes as well, if we are lucky they both will fall.

      November 1, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Reality

      "Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation "the insanest of all books".[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

      Martin Luther "found it an offensive piece of work" and John Calvin "had grave doubts about its value."[32]

      November 1, 2010 at 10:24 am |
    • Reality

      And after exhaustive reviews of Matt 7:13-23, most contemporary NT exegetes have concluded that the historic Jesus did not utter these passages.

      e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=Crossan_Inventory

      November 1, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  4. Muneef

    Molested become Molesters chain events going round and round. Molesters back each other and only Molestors only become to top the group to insure they are protected and not given out.
    Wonder what it the percentage between non molested,molestors and the non molested,molestors in such places? Are they molested,molestors to be segregated and cleared off the line of the Holy Resemblance?
    Are there to be changes where to allow or enforce marriage upon those Holies and only allow the married ones living a normal life to get higher in rank and responsibilities?
    The above changes have to be called upon by all humans atheists and religious since it speaks of our children at any faith or if converted faiths or our grand sons ,decedents??
    May God give us strength and determination to mark a change changing the Ugly to become a Beauty of it's kind rather than running away from the responsibilities levied upon us or bury our heads deep in the sand leaving butts out ?!

    November 1, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  5. John C

    I do not know if the Catholic Church has the equivalent of a 'don't ask, don't tell' or screening policy/procedure. Nevertheless, how does the Church know it is bringing in the right kind of person that will genuinely 'tend to the flock' as is needed? It apparently doesn't. Therefore, one remedy (and not an easy one) is this: no priest should never be left alone with the young folk. No outings, gatherings, walks, nothing ... unless with another parent responsible or adult present. That is a sad commentary, and a time consuming solution - it seems to contradict totally what the Church is all about, but the history seems to warrant it. The safety of the young folk (and other 'target' groups, e.g., the deaf/mutes) is paramount ... Ultimately, it will have to be a group effort involving vigilance. John C

    November 1, 2010 at 6:43 am |
  6. Chris

    You are all brainwashed!! This is all a plot by the devil using media to destroy the only real church! The Catholic Church is and has been BY FAR the most charitable organization in the world! Molestation occurs everyday by protestant pastors, rabbis, and clerics but never exposed through media. And by the way, most molestation cases are by people who are married with children. Please research your facts before making stupid and ignorant comments. -Chris

    November 1, 2010 at 6:40 am |
    • HotAirAce

      And all you are doing os trying to deflect attention away from the criminal charlatans leading your brand of tribal supernatural myths...

      There's no question that others ab-use children, but that's not what this story is about, and it has been clearly shown that the rcc and the current pope-a-dope tried to cover up ab-use.

      You would have far more credibility if you agitated for complete transparency by the rcc and cooperated with the police, even if it meant charges might laid against pope-a-dope. Feel free to point the finger of blame elsewhere once it is shown that the rcc has cleaned up its own mess.

      November 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Why don't you call it what it is; males are the overwhelming majority of those abused by these men. Where are all the females that express outrage over young girls being "victimized"? If they aren't willing to stand up for us males, why should I return the support when they claim abuse.

    November 1, 2010 at 6:28 am |
    • Frogist

      Jeff's misogyny rides again!

      November 1, 2010 at 11:06 am |
    • Peace2All


      You Said......."Why don't you call it what it is; males are the overwhelming majority of those abused by these men. Where are all the females that express outrage over young girls being "victimized"? If they aren't willing to stand up for us males, why should I return the support when they claim abuse."

      Ugh.... Hmmm.... Lets try, because it is the 'right' thing to do...?

      Your posting is so completely crazed, Jeff... yes..?

      November 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  8. Proud Muslim

    Muslim haters, live all your life like a parrotz not knowing what you are talking about, keep your hate till you die.

    Islam is the perfect religion because it comes from the creator, humans must get married, wheather they work in the mosque 24 hours. Wake up men and women of the church, Jesus doesnt want you to stay virgin all of your life, it doesnt add anything to your faith, its against your nature that God created. Whoever corrupted the bible made those crazy practices.

    November 1, 2010 at 6:18 am |
  9. GOD Help Us All

    "The Vatican said it routinely disallows such protests in the square but did allow the group to congregate on a portion of the grounds." The emphasis here should be on the word "routinely" – the fact that so many people feel compelled to gather so often to protest the same 'long-standing problem' that it has become "routine" for the Vatican to disallow them ...*sigh*... This reminds me of the line out of the movie "Broken Arrow" where Christian Slater says, "I don't know what's more disturbing – the fact that we have two stolen nuclear warheads out there, or the fact that it happens so often there's a term for it."

    November 1, 2010 at 6:12 am |
  10. cher

    ANYONE WHO MOLESTS A CHILD OR COVERS UP THE CRIME SHOULD BE IN PRISON INCLUDING THE POPE. Seriously it's time they answer for their crimes and not with just the loss of money. Loss of power, and influence over world is what must happen and looks like it is.

    November 1, 2010 at 5:06 am |
  11. aggressive

    i believe the Pope and the clerics who believe not to allow the people to march against this cause are ASS............. s. i would say do as the old testaments says an eye for an eye ,tooth for a tooth cause these fuc.......... Cleric understand those language only ,as we know in America one guy at jail murdered a cleric cause he molested a child and he wanted his child to be saved from like these types of clerics Ass.........h......... so i would vote for him and his thoughts .I SAY SH........T THEM DOWN.

    November 1, 2010 at 4:51 am |
  12. Jubril

    Judgment Day

    November 1, 2010 at 4:25 am |
  13. CharlesMcGann

    When r u going to devlop soft where sowhen u go to nude places on the internet it blacks out most of the body an u get to size the making like 6 ribs down thouse internet sights r the most Prodomnet in women there beautiful an the hand that moves on the screen it disapers or won't interfer with the picture like an goverment afical the hand doesn't look like sh on the face its like an O like the phyic card an the new bulding on the army bacefortbelvor fiboroptics is big nower days the names can blackout larger an u can chose the view an age of the women like 31to31 all the others r blackedout I bet if you do shut that down till they modify so a parent has a beTter control. An how sum of thouse women how there treated there's les of a chance of them causing harm to there selvs you get to look at a lot a beautiful women no other sights have that y don't u make some thing to show respect

    November 1, 2010 at 3:53 am |
  14. Cricket

    It is written that men in skirts that abuse will be judged by God.

    November 1, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  15. Cricket

    No more alter boys; only alter men.

    November 1, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  16. CharlesMcGann

    I never said I rember an they wher waighting to conferm my famly is not that picture in the church you're public did'nt encurage that to a naural point of bn it was all forced voices with children an all there r a lot of us 79 they murderd babys 80 they did aids in remark to egypts Ox I think silaconvally an the time "to insure man kind goes on"idi

    November 1, 2010 at 2:27 am |
  17. Brian

    Peter Wolfe


    You got it right cause this is a deliberate attempt of an obvious ploy to bring out the whackos out there against the catholic church and its teachings. ".......

    You remind me of the simple little Catholics I knew in grade school. They told me I would go to hell if I didn't convert and become a Catholic. By the way, most "Catholic bashers" are former Catholics.

    November 1, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  18. Bob Powell

    The Vatican is totally corrupt and in bed not only with children, but with the Mafia for 60 years years laundering Cosa Nosta money. Didi you notice the new recent Vatican money scandal?? ... Have you ever got a good look at the new German Pope's face? He looks like the Devil incarnate!

    November 1, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  19. Sonya

    Well, it's pretty disgusting that abuse of children by pedophile priests is still being covered up the same way it was 50 years ago. What has the church done to improve the safety of children in the company of priests? I was raised Catholic and although I don't think I know anyone who was molested by a priest, I would never raise my child catholic. Is this the beginning of the end of the Catholic religion? Because of the Church's refusal to change it's rules about celibacy and it's failure to expose, punish and/or banish pedophile priests from within, people will continue in greater and greater numbers to reject the Catholic religion.

    November 1, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  20. Peter Wolfe


    You got it right cause this is a deliberate attempt of an obvious ploy to bring out the whackos out there against the catholic church and its teachings. Humans in any disguises perpetrate all forms of official office cause they could be demonted by devils and demons not true humans in sprit of te holy spirit. Let's apply thier logic thousand = billions of catholic followers? Okay, thousand gun totting individuals equals millions of murderers? Mmmm, interesting when you throw it on the face of inductive reasoning with little to no evidense on how ridiculous the opposition to the church sound like with their modernist points of view about things. One thing to correct someone, we catholics don't worship the Pope rather the holispirt, son and the father the trinity like toher christians. Like it or not the USA is going to look a lot lik catholic unlike the declining protestants in the United States of America. We don't need to worry about anything anti-catholic bashers either cause we know tha we'll go to Heaven as well.
    Finally, HTML tag as in or something along those lines? Yes, I have done website design as well and your point? I mean this foolishness of CNN.com and how easy people are to denounce others personal private faith is rather pathetic. Don't you have something else to do than call "Religons stupid" like we could honestly say the same of you. The point of view of your opinion without any real information to gleam from is beyond academic intergrity just aa mission to dislike something you probably know nothing about. In my RCIA class, we have several different church members going to reaffiliate themselves back to the original church of Jesus Christ. Perhaps go into a local parish on a RCIA yourself to find out the truth that not even but 1% of the church has been tainted with isolated incidences, which happen to be coincidential otherwise to my knowledge my hands are not tainted. My local priest actually denounced it because of the shame of some perpetrating their office not the churchas a whole. My church does missions, food pantries, provides transportation, etc in the community. What do you do? Nothing then just be quiet cause you know nothing abot us.

    November 1, 2010 at 1:55 am |
    • Protonic

      You seem like a real head case. Don't worry little crazy person, I'm not gonna hurt you. Just wanted to let you know I read your post full of babbling nonsense. You need help. Not religious help, REAL help. Call your therapist or doctor. Tell them some crazy mad fcker said you needed help on the internet.
      It's true. You need help.

      November 2, 2010 at 10:57 am |
1 2 3
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.