On Friday, the US Ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, met with survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and clergy.
She said that she hopes that the unprecedented summit held in the Vatican this week will lead to ‘renewed commitment’ in the Catholic Church to end the sexual abuse crisis that has victimized thousands of children and women across different continents.
“President Trump takes this issue very seriously and has expressed his sadness at the allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church,” the ambassador said in a statement. “The United States Embassy has engaged senior Vatican officials on this matter and will continue to do so.”
Dozens of sexual assault survivors who were exploited by priests and clergy flocked in Rome this week to protest and demand action against the morally questionable silence of the Vatican towards sexual abuse. The marched outside the unprecedented summit in Vatican City, attended by nearly 200 church leaders around the world and convened by Pope Francis.
The four-day summit ended with a speech from the highest leader of the church saying that priests who abuse children are ‘tools of Satan.’ However, amid a discussion on proposed measures to resolve the problem, the Vatican was not able to come up with a concrete plan.
LAUNCHING A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION AGAINST THE CHURCH
Ending Clergy Abuse, a group dedicated to ending the abuse perpetrated by priests, are the ones who met with Gingrich. According to Peter Isely, the leader of the group, they urged the ambassador to help them convince the Justice Department to mount an investigation of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Several states like New York and Pennsylvania, have opened federal investigations into the church. However, survivors of clergy abuse have pressed for Justice Department officials in Washington to put the department’s full law enforcement power behind a federal probe of the church nationwide.
SURVIVORS PUSHED BACK
Isely also noted that the survivors he was with pushed back after Gingrich described the unprecedented summit as a ‘good start.’
“We said it would have been a good start 30, 20, 10 and even five years ago and that’s being very, very generous.”
Survivors have pressed Ambassador Gingrich to prioritize them because her office’s responsibility is to protect the interest of the survivors and the victims, not the Vatican’s.
“It is my hope that the Holy See will emerge from this … summit with a renewed commitment to ending clerical sexual abuse,” Gingrich said in the statement. /apr