Abuse Victims Still Hope for Private Audience with Benedict

By Helen Pidd
The Guardian
September 17, 2010

Many abuse victims said it was cathartic to see the pope in person, but that they would like a private audience with him. Photograph:

Hopes remain that the pope will find a few spare minutes in his schedule to meet privately with abuse victims, but for many of those who suffered, shouting at Benedict as he passed by in the popemobile yesterday was their only hope of being heard by the head of the church, which they claim ruined their lives.

"Come on you coward! Come and talk to me! Don't hide behind your institution and your fancy clothes!" yelled Corneilius Crowley, 51, from County Cork, who said he had suffered years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic nuns and priests while at boarding schools in Ireland in the 1960s. "Paedophile protector!" shouted a woman clutching a "no grope-mobile" banner.

It was "cathartic" to see the pope up close and personal, said Crowley, stressing that he wished him no harm. "I just want him to have the courage and to have enough heart to turn around and excise this from the religion," he said calmly.

Other victims were openly furious. Bill Maloney, a film maker who said he and his seven siblings were abused at Catholic orphanages, said he wanted the pope to resign. "He doesn't follow Jesus's teachings he preaches about being good to the poor but lives in a closed world of opulence and riches," he said.

"My sister was raped aged five and I was abused by a nun who said she would teach me to fly and then hurled me across the room."

Pilgrims agreed the abuse scandal had brought shame on the religion and that more ought to be done and have been done - about abusive priests.

"Some people seem to believe that all priests are paedophiles," said Barbara O'Driscoll, a pilgrim from a church in north London. "But the way I see it, Jesus chose 12 apostles and one betrayed him. It's the human condition."


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