Church leaders gather to discuss abuse crisis

Church leaders and heads of bishops’ conferences from across the world have gathered in Rome for a three-day “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting at the Vatican. Dr. Matthew Bunson joined Morning Air® from Rome where the meetings will continue through Sunday.

“Pope Francis himself has tried over the previous few weeks to dampen, or as he put it, to deflate the expectations that people have. Now, in fairness, I think the level of anticipation increased with the decision of the Holy See not to allow the bishops to vote on some proposals back in November regarding bishop accountability. So one of the aspects that we need to look at is pay very close attention to these interventions … what the actual presenters have to say is going to be important. The other thing to circle is Sunday, and that is closing Mass and a formal statement from Pope Francis. That is probably as close as we’re going to get to some sort of a summary statement coming out of this,” said Bunson.

The three themes for the four-day meeting of bishops are responsibility, accountability, and transparency, explained Bunson. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines spoke on Thursday about responsibility, and the need for bishops to have faith and to truly see victims of clergy abuse and their need for healing. “We humbly and sorrowfully admit, that wounds have been inflicted by us bishops on victims and in fact the entire body of Christ,” he said.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Canada spoke on Thursday about creating a culture of disclosure in the Church. “We have been entrusted with the care of our people.  It is our sacred duty to protect our people and to ensure justice when they have been abused,” said Scicluna

There is always the danger of politicizing these synods, says Bunson. “But there are important contributions to be made by all the voices in the Church, especially those who are concerned about a lack of clarity in culture today and certainly within the Church.”

“This was a crisis that was formed in part because of a deformation, a misunderstanding and a deliberate misinterpretation of the teachings of the Church, as well as an abandonment of fidelity,” explained Bunson. Stay tuned to Relevant Radio for more news about the Vatican meetings as well as recaps early next week.