Speaker: Abuse survivors can’t wait for bishops to learn from crisis

National Catholic Reporter

September 30, 2019

By Heidi Schlumpf

Notre Dame panel addresses progress made in sexual abuse scandal

Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy continues to haunt not only its victims/survivors but also the entire church, as attention now turns to negligent bishops, abuse of vulnerable adults and related financial scandals, said speakers at a University of Notre Dame event that asked: “Where Are We Now?”

While some praised the progress made in past decades, including declining numbers of new cases and better pastoral support for victims, a survivor on the panel hit back about comments that church leaders have had to experience a “learning curve” on the issue.

“Raping a child has been wrong before Christ, after Christ, in the Middle Ages, and it will always be wrong,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, who was abused as a teenager in Chile by a notorious priest who has since been laicized. “We can’t wait for bishops to finish their learning curves. Survivors need us now.”

Cruz, who met with Pope Francis in 2018 and is credited with helping the pontiff address the issue more strongly, agreed with fellow panelist Baltimore Archbishop William Lori about the need for more lay people to bring their expertise to the decision-making table on the issue.

“We need not only lay people, I would say we need more women in the church. … We need more women to break this men’s club,” he said, drawing applause.

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