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Catholic clergy abuse victims plan gathering in St. Peter’s Square

October 31, 2010 - VATICAN

Two victims of sexual abuse by priests hope to fill St. Peter's Square on Oct 31 with some 50,000 other priestly abuse victims. The two men, who met Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, say they hope the event will call attention to the need for support and healing for the victims. Olan Horne and Bernie McDaid of Massachusetts told the Catholic News Service they hope the pope will join the gathering as a way to show his support for the victims.

They point out that the day is observed as a day of reformation in some cultures. According to AFP, senior clerics across the United States and Europe are accused of protecting guilty clergy by moving them to other parishes - where they sometimes offended again - instead of handing them over to civil authorities for prosecution. "The victims of these crimes have never really been heard correctly or had their day or voice," McDaid said. "It's always been overdubbed or behind the church, the lawsuits, the lawyers, talk of Catholic reform." The men explained that they are contacting priestly abuse victims worldwide to encourage them to travel to the Vatican. Vatican authorities have emphasized that it was the pope who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, pushed for harsher measures against abusers and made it easier for the church to defrock them. During his recent trip to Malta, Pope Benedict, in a meeting with eight abuse victims, promised them the church would do "all in its power" to bring offenders to justice and protect children.

Abuse survivors move forward with plans at Vatican Oct. 31

Abuse victims plan Reformation Day meeting in St. Peter&rsquos Square (CNS 26 Apr 2010)

One lawyer behind many allegations of Catholic Church abuse (CNN 27 Apr 2010)

Silence reigns over Church's child abuse scandals in Africa (AFP/AsiaOne 27 Apr 2010)

Date written/update: 2010-10-31