"We want the Pope to write into universal law: zero tolerance for the cover-up of sex crimes," survivor Peter Isely said.
Abuse survivors of Catholic clergy members are encouraging the Vatican impose a “no tolerance” policy ahead of the international meeting being held Thursday.
Despite their requests, the Pope did not meet with the dozen victims, sending instead five vatican officials to hear their concerns, complaints, and suggestions during a two-hour session.
Catholic bishops, Vatican officials, experts and heads of male and female religious orders from around the globe are expected to attend the four-day conference to discuss the culture of sexual abuse in the church and settle on a code of action when cases arise.
“We need to have a discussion with the man who makes the rules and has the power in this institution, and that’s Pope Francis,” said Peter Isely, an American from Milwaukee who was abused when he was a boy by a priest.
Isely said the discussion had become “a little bit confrontational, a little heated at times but polite.”
Scandals over sexual abuse of minors have deeply damaged the Church’s credibility in the United States, Chile, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere. Billions of dollars have been paid in the United States alone in settlements.
The conference takes place as the 1.3 billion-member Church still struggles to enact a concerted, coordinated and global effort to tackle a crisis that is now more than two decades old.
“We made our demands for zero tolerance. We want the pope to write into universal law: zero tolerance for the cover-up of sex crimes. They can do it right now,” Isely told reporters after the meeting with the officials, all of them clerics.
He and other victims said bishops who had covered up abuse should be dismissed from the priesthood, known as laicization, just like those who had committed the abuse itself.