Pope’s outreach to abuse victims draws mixed reaction in D.C.

WASHINGTON – Pope Francis announced plans to sit down and talk with a group of clergy sex abuse victims, a move generating mixed reaction in D.C.

The pope has faced criticism for drawing little attention to the issue that has rocked the Catholic Church for more than a decade.

“I think the Holy Father’s announcement that he will meet with victims is very good news,” says Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. “Victims of any type of abuse, certainly victims of clergy abuse, they need to be embraced fully.”

But for others, the Vatican meeting will do nothing to help with the healing process.

“This is just another gesture,” says Becky Ianni, director of the Virginia and D.C. chapters of the victims’ group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

“How is this going to help victims worldwide?” she asks.

Ianni herself is a victim. She was abused by a priest in Alexandria when she was a child.

Ianni says actions from the Pope, not words, will bolster the fight against clergy members who have violated children.

“What’s going to give me hope is when he disciplines publicly, and harshly, a bishop who’s covered up abuse or when he turns over all the Vatican’s records on abuse,” says Ianni.

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