Clergy Abuse Survivors Demand Action Not Words

Press Association
September 12, 2010

Survivors of abuse by Catholic priests appealed to the Pope to listen to their call for "action not words".

A statutory inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in the UK, pastoral care and funding to support victims are among the steps that should be taken to address paedophile crime within the Church, according to campaigners.

Speaking at a conference in Islington, north London, ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England and Scotland next week, Dr Margaret Kennedy - who founded Minister And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS) - highlighted the fact the head of the Roman Catholic Church would travel with the "accolade and dignity" given to a head of state.

"Sadly we are not afforded the same respect or dignity or status," she said. "Many survivors have to almost live in fear, shame, guilt because when they report they are made to feel like pariahs, disloyal, aggressive, money grabbing, false allegations and so on.

"The labels are extensive for survivors of clergy abuse."

She said survivors were writing accounts of their own experiences of abuse and messages to the Pope in a book she hoped to present during his visit.

Three attempts to arrange for MACSAS to meet the Pope to hand it over had been rejected.

But the group will still attempt to brave the crowds expected for the Pope's public appearances to give the book to him, she added.

She said: "We are going to try and say to the Pope that we are speaking, please listen.

"That is the title of the conference - 'We are speaking, please listen'."

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