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. sigh

    Can we move on please?

    November 1, 2010 at 1:33 am |
    • YBP

      Yeah. Why can't all the abuse victims just get over it and act like it never happened? The abuse victims are obviously nothing but a bunch disgruntled catholic-bashers. They should just move on.

      November 1, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  2. Debbie M.

    In this day and age, despite 'grammar check' and 'spell check', we cannot express ourselves intellectually in the written word. I couldn't make it 10 words into the article without misuse or misspelling of a word!!

    November 1, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  3. CharlesMcGann


    November 1, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  4. Dee

    Wow you would think nobody was ever molested except by a priest. Can we move past this story now?

    November 1, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Last April, the ‘National Catholic Reporter’, a dissident Catholic newspaper, ran a story on the so-called “Victims’ Summit”, a gathering of alleged victims of priestly s3xual abuse scheduled to take place in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 31. Bernie McDaid, one of the or-ganizers, predicted they would amass 50,000 people in a massive show of anger against the Catholic Church. I think it fell short…..

      November 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  5. CharlesMcGann


    November 1, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  6. Kevin

    No need to go to church anymore ... the TSA will fondle your children while you wait!

    November 1, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  7. Steven

    When thing like this happens ,the whole system needs to be scrutinized. From the holy book, teaching and practice of its believers. The same with all religions. The weakness of man will always deny and protect the wrongs. They have failed when they say they believed in a God Who sees all . This is hypocrisy. The world are full of them and more and more are joining them. That is the trend today , but you who fear God , repent and follows the narrow path

    November 1, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • The pope is a retard

      Humans are obviously still in their infantsy as far as evolving into intelligent beings goes. Othewise wouldnt we all be able to see through this creepy nonssense? Why dont you blieve in other religions? because they are rediculous. Can you not see that your religion is no different? Talk about blind

      November 1, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • likepope

      retards can't spell words correctly.

      November 1, 2010 at 3:26 am |
  8. wolfn

    God doesn't want us to worship man, the pope has no power and is just a man. Worship Jesus Christ the son of god who gave his life for our sins. Confess him as lord (in heart) and you will be born again and have life eternal with all of us!! One big fun party with no pain or sickness or despair just fun!!! We need to remember our days as a child we didn't worry about anything and everything was fun and we believed in the unbelievable!

    November 1, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • David E

      ...you are missing the issue, many people want to remember their childhood as happy children, instead they have to go through life in misery because of the abuses they suffered as innocent children.

      November 1, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  9. Colin in Florida

    I just discovered something that sickens me. Did you know that the Catholic Church receive money from the Italian people-every year-by law. In 2000 (last years records were available) they received about one Billion euros from the Italian people! For what? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_per_thousand.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  10. USGangsta

    All you are nuts for making comments on a religion that is over 2000 years old. If it wasn't for Christian values for the past 2000 none of you would be alive. Christian values kept people generations before you from killing the generations before you. Also the Catholic religion is so large its hard to keep tabs on everyone that is involved in it. Look at the public and private schools. Do you know how many kids get molested by teachers and faculty at schools annually? Its a lot. Yet you all send your kids to school. So satanist keep poking fun at a religion that has done more good than bad. And hope you had your fun.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:36 am |
    • YBP

      You should learn about the history of the church over the past 2000 years. Then perhaps you wouldn't be so indignant.

      November 1, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • David E

      ...and ignorant too!

      November 1, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  11. okenwa matthias

    Such live should be totaly condemned and the defaulters made to face the law. Why cant they practice what they preach. Jesus is angry with such act. Okenwa matthias 4rm Abuja.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  12. Annexian

    If "The Exorcist" was written today;

    Lil girl tied to bed, her face deformed by demonic evil. Floating stuffed animals, strange lights, etc. to prove it's actual supernatural vs. real insanity. Priest in the room.

    The Fiend: "Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz! Priests abuse little boyz!...."

    The priest just smiles and drinks the sacred wine, leering wickedly. Even a spray of projectile vomit does not deter him.

    He leers and says: "not JUST Little Boyz, Mister Prince of Darkness, as you should know SO well by NOW!!!" and starts taking off his robes.

    The fiend does headspins and launches legions of flies, going "Noooooooo Not agaiiinnnnn!" but nothing deters the priests approach.

    We won't show or describe the next scene but the one after it is in the land down under and we don't mean Australia, but the fiend appears in a puff of fire and brimstone. He then curls up into a fetal position crying and sucking his thumb.

    "Booo Hooo! That was so horrible! What an evil, smelly, ugly, self-serving creature! Ohhhh......! To be touched by something so hideous.... Booo Hoooo!!!!!"

    Later, there's a "Group Therapy" and various fiends are sharing horror stories, crying and hugging each other. They gang up on the boss and go: "Look, we followed you against the Increate on a path that led us...here...and we are with you still, but NO MORE POSESSION trips! From now on, we just record our voices backwards on MP3s and in Dungeons and Dragons books but no more Posession! Most of us can't sit down anymore, we sympathize with that guy with a face on his rear!!!"

    November 1, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  13. Denise

    Hey child molesting Priests: stop hiding behind the cross you nasty perverts! All you do is give people a reason to hate the church and not believe in God–sick demonic morons go back to hell you satanic monkeys. A child's body is OFF LIMITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope all children of molestation will someday experience inner peace and harmony.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • YBP

      Priest abuse aside, there is no good reason to believe in gods or churches.

      November 1, 2010 at 2:03 am |
  14. Darthlawsuit

    We need moar little boys! The Vatican says we cannot marry women, but Vatican law says nothing about little boys :3

    November 1, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  15. Reality

    For an update on ped-ophlila in the RCC, the Jehovah Witnesses, Judaism, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Boy Scouts and the general population, read the following reports:

    For a more detailed report about se-xual abuse cases in the RCC in the USA, see

    For a more detailed report on the global situation, see:

    For details on s-exual abuse in the Southern Baptist convention, see:

    For details on se-xual abuse in the Boy Scouts, see:

    For details about se-xual abuse in Judaism, see:



    For details on se-xual abuse in the Jehovah Witnesses, see:

    For a studies on pe-dophilia in the general population, see

    Note: hyphens are used in the words "se-x..." and "pedo-philia" because of this blog's word filter. Remove the hyphens from these words in any web address before accessing the information.

    October 31, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      Why do you not use "html entities" ? That way you could post a good link without worrying about the hyphens...!

      Just Katifyin'

      November 1, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Reality

      Testing Sam Dude's suggestion:

      "html pedophilia" "pedophilia"

      November 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  16. lrf

    being molested as a child is soul killing something that you never completly recover from. and your correct it cuts across all religions.

    October 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  17. eberechi okpara

    Good idea

    October 31, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  18. eberechi okpara

    I wish u guys the best solution

    October 31, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  19. eberechi okpara

    Well dikiloves the solution has to be found bt nt in catholic

    October 31, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  20. eberechi okpara

    Well dikiloves the solution has to be found bt nt in catholic anymore its better u guys try out a more disciplined religion and get out of dis mess.bye

    October 31, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
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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.