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. Hello

    If anything, THIS is a rally to restore sanity.

    October 31, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  2. CharlesMcGann

    Befor the age of eighteen

    October 31, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  3. NoOne

    To this minute no catholic priest, bishop, arch-bishop, cardinal, or poop has contacted any legal authority any place in the world to report child molesting by anyone. These sickos are still at it, and all the good little catholics are powerless to do anything about it.

    October 31, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  4. cat

    this is bassackwards. how does the pope keep his head up? shameful conduct continues to go unnoticed. ignored and swept under the rug. what will he do but apologize. they need to find a new way.

    October 31, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • Peter F

      I'm shocked the moderator didn't bring his mighty fist down upon your post... lol

      October 31, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Peter F
      You can say " ass " quite freely. I made some lists ...I print them in the slower threads when I keep running into people having difficulty with the word filter....

      November 1, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  5. dikiloves

    are we trying to find the root causes of child abuse? is happened only in the Catholic church, no other churches or religous practices? within community or even within a family. I am challenging all of you!!

    October 31, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      It is a mental health issue that revolves around s-ex. Two big reasons why no one wants to actually address the roots of it.

      October 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      Of course, and very sadly, children are molested by others, not just priests in the rcc. But you are just making that point to deflect attantion away from the fact that children should have been safer within such an organization (if it was true to its claims) and that the said organization, quite probably under the leadership of the current pope-a-dope, covered up the criminal activities of its employees. Quit deflecting, 'fess up, condemn the behaviour of the rccs, its priests and pope-a-dope, invite the police to look into every allegations of priestly ab-use and then we can move on to others.

      November 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  6. Brian

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

    The most notorious cases were (are) in Ireland.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Carlos L. Sutter

      South America is FULL of this type of atrocity, but it is so much better hidden (controlled; usually the armed forces or the police are involved) than in the United States or Europe. All those orphanages controlled by the Catholic church are little Hells on Earth; the Church is so entrenched in the Government that not much can be done from the inside. It is an insane tragedy. Those poor children are in no mans land, nobody cares about them, except these pedophiles. The Vatican have known about it for centuries, but they make it look like this is only a recent phenomena and only happening in the United States and Ireland. I would think Africa is worse.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:26 am |
  7. RG

    So priests hate gays, and after their hate speech they go and do gay stuff to little boys, oh the irony

    October 31, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  8. JT

    I hope one day people won't need the crutch called religion. It's hard and frightening to discard the religion of your parents but it is so exhilarating and liberating to be free of this poison. To be deluded and part of the Christian dogma and cult puts you at risk of being abused and taken advantage of. When you finally are able to escape from that bubble and look back at the Christian cult dispassionately and from outside that bubble you will be able to see just how absurd it all is.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • Carlos L. Sutter

      JT, you hit the nail right ON its head.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:35 am |
    • DanW

      The clergy don't molest at any higher rate than any other segment of society. Your children are no less or no more safe in school than at a Catholic (or any other) Church.

      November 1, 2010 at 3:14 am |
    • Phage0070

      DanW, they also don't molest at a statistically lower frequency than the regular population. Now isn't that interesting from a theological viewpoint? Besides, that isn't the problem people are protesting about. It is the Catholic Church's cover up of those who molest children, not just that it happens at all. The general populace's law enforcement will capture, try, and imprison child abusers. The Catholic Church will keep it a secret, take the offender's word that "God" forgives them, and move them to a different location to avoid lawful prosecution. Thats the problem.

      November 1, 2010 at 5:33 am |
  9. CharlesMcGann

    Try ALL of it

    October 31, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  10. John

    If they are taking any children I hope they put metal underwear with locks on them first.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  11. woody

    I use to live in a city where there are five hundred cases of girls under age getting V.D. A man in his fifties had given a girl age seven herpes. Everything is more important than the kids. Thats why people are more concerned if a person is gay than if a child is being aborted. I guess it takes your minds off of things. People love to hide from reality ...

    October 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  12. nacho

    if the victoms stormed the vatican ..... it would look like a scene from braveheart

    October 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  13. Brian, Detroit, MI

    Since it was the Catholic Church that sent the crusaders from Europe to the Muslim nations of the Middle East back in the, what was it 16th century? Send the Muslim suicide bombers to Vatican City to rid the world of the plague that is the Catholic Church. A happy ending for all.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • Katie

      And where would that leave us Catholics?

      October 31, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • Jay

      Seeing as how most of your doctrine is based in paganism and that's been PROVEN... just meet up with the Muslims at V(ice) city and they'll tell you where to stand.

      October 31, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
    • Carlos L. Sutter


      Where would Catholics be? See JT's comments below.

      I can only hope they would be FREE of Dogmatic, controlling, and poisoning views. You would be free to choose REASON as the main tool to decide how to act, instead of simply following men's ideas as to how you should live your life. That they tell you God said this or that it, and to prove it they wrote it in a book themselves, does NOT mean that God told them this or that. Makes sense? (note: you must use Reason).

      November 1, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  14. buzz111

    The church's response to this problem has been lacking. It is easy to forget all the good that the church does, however. The Catholic church is the #1 charitable organization world-wide by far. I just don't understand how the church could "hide" this stuff. If my kid got touched by a priest (or anyone), I'd be calling the police directly.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • Phage0070

      It was "hidden" because they did call the police directly, and the police let the clergy police themselves. And the church just reassigned the offenders to a different community. In other words, it was the result of an abject failure of morality and lawfulness on the part of both the Catholic Church and the local governments.

      November 1, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  15. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion

    Have you ever wanted to read something clever? I placed 74th in the world on an intelligence measure. NoSuchThingAsAnOpinion nosuchthingasanopinion.weebly.com/no-such-thing-as-an-opinion.html

    October 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • RG

      Dude, im not trying to be a jerk, but i can guarantee you that site was a fraud.

      October 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  16. Christopher M. Hutchinson

    I completely understand the victims point of view because i was mallested when i was 9 years old by an elderly man that was my mothers boyfriends father. i do know that this is a problem all over the world and it is a shame that the church can not be trusted with our children. i would think harsh penalties should be put in place to deter future preditors of the children that should be protected. i want to see real change not cover up from an organization that feeds off the people.
    thank you for listening,

    October 31, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Isis


      I'm glad you're doing better. You sound like a sweet person.


      October 31, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
    • James M.

      @jay, I can spell ignorant pretty well, what kind of weak man uses spelling as an answer to a comment!
      How about this...I would kick the shat out of you if we ever met!

      November 1, 2010 at 1:59 am |
    • predators2

      and predators too.

      November 1, 2010 at 3:01 am |
    • L Newington

      Chris it would have been your mothers worst nightmare as with children abused by members of trusted clergy.
      I do hope you are happy and doing well.

      November 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  17. Mona

    i meant Haters not waters

    October 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
    • RG

      No offense, but how do you spell that wrong. W and H are far apart on the keyboard

      October 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • The pope is a retard

      Yeah, this is an extremely important point. How did you misspell it? Oh wait, its called a spell check error.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:49 am |
    • GM


      November 1, 2010 at 6:39 am |
  18. Mona

    I agree with you Charles. The Muslim Waters are driving me crazy!!

    October 31, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
    • ikantraed

      Gee if Muslims were waters.. I would avoid those ones in favor of more calm waters..

      November 1, 2010 at 4:30 am |
    • honestanon

      Maybe she meant to say muslim waiters? Did she have a bad experience at a ME restaurant ? Sticky hummus? Raw kibbe? Bet she didn't leave a tip...

      November 1, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  19. April

    I like that it says "he called Sunday 'reformation day.'" Um, Sunday October 31 actually is Reformation Day, ya know where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg?

    October 31, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Jon

      HA I noticed that too. I'm not even religious but I know enough about it that Reformation Sunday is not a name the guy made up!

      October 31, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
    • Jay

      ^^ THIS!!!! LOL

      October 31, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
    • jesus

      Too many forget history and are duped by a revisionism and a recreation of a past event as if it were new. BTW, was Marty looped with liquor when he did the nailing? The man was known in his day to be a fervent alcoholic.

      November 1, 2010 at 5:58 am |
  20. honestanon

    Thank you, CNN for the healthy dose of catholic ped-o news – the requisite offset to any heinous act by islamic extremists. One good turn deserves another, 'eh?

    Gee, I was kind of hoping for your coverage of the 'local moderate' islamic community's reaction to the chur.... well, never mind.

    October 31, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
    • Charles

      Boy you Islamophobes are nuts.

      October 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • nacho

      cnn did report on the Jew hating catholic bishops in favor of a 2 state solution in the mid east

      October 31, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
    • MS

      What do Muslims have to do with Catholics molesting kids?

      Religious people never fail to amuse me.

      October 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Are you mad about there not being enough Muslim hate blogs, or that there is yet another Catholic victim's blog?

      October 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • jd

      The term "Islamophobe" is a word used by bigots to cause insult.

      October 31, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • jesus

      It was reported that the protest took place outside the Vatican on the same spot where Pope Pius XII used to sip wine and watched as Jews were being rounded up for a trip to the concentration camps.

      October 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
    • Chaos

      "The term "Islamophobe" is a word used by bigots to cause insult."

      YOu have it half right. The insult part. Since that applies regardless of race, religion, gender ect. and just to a simpleton's midset, it can't be bigotry. Speaking of simpletons, you failure to even know what bigotry is makes you one.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:02 am |
    • ikantraed

      And the Vatican was very excited upon their arrival

      November 1, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • William Shellikoff Jr.

      islamaphobes huh whatever i hate ever1 equally...

      November 1, 2010 at 1:30 am |
    • Josh

      Come on, give Muslims a break on this one. What does it have to do with them. I am not a Muslim fan but this is just not making sense at all.

      November 1, 2010 at 1:38 am |
    • honestanon

      @ Josh

      My comment wasn't directed at muslims. It was a statement on CNN's choice of stories. The islamic community had a terrific opportunity to offer public condemnation of the Iraqi church standoff / bombing / homicides. Instead CNN continued to pursue a topic of deviancy that has likely been going on in the catholic church since before recorded time. "Beware the religion that does not allow men to take wives.." and all. This dead horse has been beaten and is rotting, and only the judgment of society will resolve the relevancy of catholicism to modern culture. However CNN, by going with this subject on the heels of the Iraqi church tragedy has essentially deflected attention away from it.

      So islam had a great PR opening, and CNN scre-wed the pooch on their behalf. Unless, of course, there wasn't any effort given to followup, or there were no condemnations offered... Reporters from the UK Guardian were on site, maybe they wrote something? Nope. Seems that terrorists were quick to as-sume responsibility, but no one has yet to condemn... But that's all secondary to my original point.

      I'm sure the formal islamic proscriptions and denouncements will begin rolling in on tomorrow's news feeds.

      November 1, 2010 at 4:08 am |
    • Jubril

      what has Muslims got to do with Catholics molesting kids. The economy is bad , blame it on the Muslims, the climate is changing blame it on the Muslims, the pastor in Georgia is molesting boys blame it on the Muslims, home prices is falling blame it on the Muslims

      November 1, 2010 at 4:25 am |
    • ikantraed

      You took the words right out of my mouth.. Excellent post to this article.. good job!

      November 1, 2010 at 4:28 am |
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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.