"It has been said that we walk backwards into the future looking at our past. A genuine history is needed for our future."
In his remarks, Cruz said that he would leave the statistics to the experts and speak from the heart. While Cruz' story of abuse at the hands of his parish priest in Chile was initially dismissed by Pope Francis, the Holy Father later apologized to Cruz and other victims for being "part of the problem" in May 2018.
Cruz told the panel audience that what sustained him through the pain of his experience of abuse was his Catholic faith.
"I decided early on that I wasn't going to let them win. I wasn't going to let the bad ones win," he said. "I believe that the relationship anyone has with God...it's the most basic human right that one can have, is to believe in what you believe, and nobody can mess with it. And I wasn't going to let them mess with that."
In a word of encouragement to abuse survivors, Cruz said that while it is hard to come forward with a story of abuse, there are people who can help.
"There are so many people who want to lend you a hand, to help you through that horrible pain," he said.
Cruz said that he was encouraged by Pope Francis' apology and willingness to listen to his story and those of other abuse survivors, but that he was discouraged by the attitudes of some bishops who promise to improve but who continue to cover up and mishandle cases of abuse.
"Pope Francis wants to solve the problem, I've talked to him and know he's sincere," he said. "However, the bishops go, talk to him, say, 'absolutely Pope Francis,' they bow, they kiss his ring, go back to their countries and do the same thing they've been doing...nobody holds them accountable and that needs to stop."
In her remarks, McChesney also called for a change of heart and attitude among the bishops.
"When I first worked for the USCCB, the Dallas Charter was new, we were excited about implementing it, and I talked with many survivors," she noted. "And one man said: 'Look, you can have all the programs in the world you want, you can have policies, you can have trainings, you can have background checks and investigations, you can do all of those things, but until the bishops realize that there has to be a true accountability, I and my fellow survivors are not going to heal.'"
"It is so critical for the men and women who have been abused to know that someone is taking responsibility for what has happened to them," McChesney said.
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There has also been a lot of talk about the rethinking of seminary formation in the wake of the abuse crisis, McChesney said, with suggestions to really emphasize the human formation aspect of seminary formation.
But this "puts the cart before the horse," she argued.
"In my experience, I think that selection is more important than formation...you can have the best formation programs, the best seminaries in the entire world, but if you have selected the wrong person to go into seminary, someone who is so troubled, who doesn't know what they want to do, has mental health issues...that person is never going to become a healthy cleric. So to have a healthy presbyterate, you need to start with healthy men," McChesney said.
She also credited lay men and women, as well as some dedicated clergy, with working on the ground levels to bring the abuse numbers down since the Dallas Charter was established and who continue to work with and pressure bishops into doing more.
Because there have been so few cases since the 2002 Charter, McChesney added, it is all the more urgent to thoroughly investigate the cases of abuse that have occurred since then, and to ask how and why they happened.
"There are not as many cases - but there have been cases. Why? Who missed that lesson and why? And where was the oversight of those persons who abused?" she said.