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  • John Thavis

Transparency must be tackled at Vatican abuse summit, moderator says

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

The moderator of the Vatican’s upcoming summit on sex abuse has underlined several crucial themes for the four-day meeting, including the need for greater accountability and transparency by bishops.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the former Vatican spokesman tapped by Pope Francis to chair the Feb. 21-24 summit, said past cover-ups by church officials have been the cause of “evil and tragedy.”

He made the comments in an article published in late January by “La Civiltà Cattolica,” a Jesuit journal that reflects Vatican thinking.

Father Lombardi said it was not enough for bishops to put procedures in place and deal quietly with sexual abuse cases. They need to communicate openly and quickly with everyone involved, he said.

“Sincerity and honesty in communications, the commitment to facilitate access to information, and to welcome outside help to improve the protection of minors are obviously behaviors that go in the opposite direction to the tendency to hide and cover up,” he said.

“This was one of the causes of so much evil and tragedy in the past,” he said.

Father Lombardi said the church’s approach to abuse by clerics must include a change in outlook and attitude, and not only new procedures to deal with accused priests. In that regard, his article praised a document published by the bishops of Canada in 2018, titled “Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse.”

Meanwhile, another organizer of the summit, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, said one expected outcome of the meeting will be establishment of a task force with teams of child protection experts working on every continent.

It would appear that the task force’s purpose will be to make sure that there is practical follow-up to the summit, especially in places where there has been reluctance to face the problem.

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