December 28, 2019
By Inés San Martín
Often described as the “Energizer bunny of popes,” Pope Francis in 2019 traveled more miles than ever before, addressed the full scope of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and made key personnel moves, including one that abuse survivors had been demanding for years.
The February abuse summit
When Francis summoned the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences and the leaders of the men’s and women’s religious orders to Rome for a Feb. 21-24, 2019 meeting, there was little to no information given out to describe the event.
However, it became evident that in the pope’s mind, beyond fostering transparency and discussing best practices, an important element of the meeting would be guaranteeing that no bishop in the future could say: “I didn’t know how to respond.”
Particularly in countries where the abuse crisis still seems like a “foreign” problem, there are bishops who believe that moving abusive priests to a different parish – or a different country – is a solution, or that priests can be returned to ministry after receiving “treatment” for sexual disorders. After their meeting in Rome, those excuses will no longer fly.
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