February 20, 2020
By Nicole Winfield
Survivors of church sex abuse have descended on Rome this week, marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ summit of church leaders on preventing abuse with calls for more accountability and acknowledgment of their pain.
On Thursday, three deaf Argentines marched to St. Peter’s Square. They were among the victims of violent sexual abuse by priests in the Argentine branch of the Provolo Institute, a Catholic-run school for the deaf that also saw dozens of victims at its school in Verona, Italy.
Recently, an Argentine court convicted two Provolo priests of repeatedly violating the children — including one who also was flagged to Francis as early as in 2014 as an abuser in Verona. “Support the Provolo survivors,” read a banner carried by the victims in front of St. Peter’s Square.
Also marching was Mary Dispenza, a survivor of abuse by both a priest and a nun. She and members of the U.S.-based victims’ advocacy group SNAP walked to the headquarters of the umbrella group of religious sisters and secured a meeting with its executive secretary, Sister Patricia Murray.
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