Victims said the four members of the summit's organizing committee present at their encounter Wednesday -- Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay; Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) -- will also be present at the follow-up Feb. 25.
Fr. Federico Lombardy, who is acting as moderator during the child protection summit, was also present at Wednesday’s meeting with victims.
Mary Dispenza, a national representative for and leader of SNAP in Seattle, Washington, said her hope is that the follow-up meeting of Vatican leaders will be able to give specific points of action: that they “are going to do one, two, three, and four.”
While the Vatican had said Pope Francis would not be a part of the meeting between victims and summit organizers, several victims expressed disappointment he did not make a surprise appearance.
According to Phil Saviano, several of the victims made requests to meet the pope, but no promises were made that they would be able to do so.
A board member of “Bishop Accountability” and a partner of the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team back in 2001, Saviano during the meeting read aloud a letter stressing the importance of transparency.
In the letter, which was made available to the press in advance, he said what is taking place in the Church today is a “tipping point,” and that without total transparency, “people's faith and trust in the Vatican is rapidly washing away.”
In particular, Saviano’s letter, which was addressed specifically to Scicluna, called on the Vatican to release the names and files of any priests who have been reported to the Vatican for child abuse, in order to, he told journalists later, prevent future abuse and out of respect for victims.
“These four men seemed to agree with what I had to say about transparency about releasing the records,” he said to journalists. Saviano also said Scicluna approached him privately after the meeting to say he “agrees with me completely on what I was asking him to do.”
The caveat, however, was what several victims described as an expression of powerlessness on the part of the cardinals and archbishop present, who said, according to the victims, that they agreed with their suggestions, but that they themselves do not have the power to put these ideas into action.
The encounter with victims took place in the Maria Santissima Bambina Institute, a guest house situated on Vatican property just outside St. Peter’s Square.
Other victim survivors present included Italian Francesco Zanardi, the founder of Italy’s only network of clerical abuse survivors, Spaniard Miguel Angel Hurtado, leader of the organization Infancia Robada [“Stolen Childhood”], and members of the French association, La Parole Libérée, François Devaux and Olivier Savignac.
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Also present was Chilean Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of the notorious abuser Fr. Karadima. He told journalists he is calling on bishops “to do what they have to do for this [meeting] to be successful.”
“The bishops cannot continue getting it wrong because as it is, the Church is on borrowed time.”
A woman from Jamaica who is a victim of clerical abuse was also present.
The one non-victim to join the meeting with summit organizers was Pedro Salinas. A Peruvian, he is a former member of the lay Catholic organization Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) and co-author of the book “Half Monks, Half Soldiers.”
Saviano noted that the intended purpose of the meeting on the protection of minors is very clear -- educating bishops -- so he hopes action will take place in the follow-up.
The meeting itself is “for those that understand what's going on, to make sure they’re all on the same page. And for those that don't understand, to bring them up to speed and let them know that there's going to be expectations that they'll be expected to live up to,” he said.