Women continue to ask for transparency but their voices go unheard

In less than six weeks in Rome, a special meeting of Presidents of Bishops Conferences dedicated to the abuse crisis will take place and the faithful are yet again left in the dark about who exactly will participate, how the proceedings will be made transparent and whether voices of survivors will be heard.

Voices of Faith is disappointed that women survivors and experts who gathered in Rome on November 27th has been left without answer. The three demands that they formulated as minimal requirements on transparency and credibility of the February meeting would be good practice in any institution:

1. A complete list of participants, their expertise and the agenda of the meeting to be made public at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the meeting

2. All proceedings and voting on any documents during the meeting is made public in order to facilitate transparency

3. Diverse voices of women survivors and advocates should be invited to participate and be heard at this meeting. Therefore, dedicated time in the program should be given for Women’s voices such as those who spoke in Rome on November 27th.  Women’s voices are crucial to any credible efforts to stop and prevent abuse.

As many analysts emphasize, the Church is now in the biggest crisis for years. The faithful are afflicted and frustrated by the fact that the hierarchical Church has till now not been able to act with transparency. Abuse survivors are still waiting for justice, and all the faithful for a guarantee the situation of systemic abuse and cover up will never repeat.

Barbara Dorris: “It has been just over seventeen years since the abuse scandal was highlighted by the Boston Globe series. How is it possible that in all that time Church officials have not been able to grasp the simple concept that sexual assault is a crime? That people who commit these horrific crimes should be held accountable by civil authorities and that if you enable and/or protect these predators then you are an accessory to the crimes.”

So far, the only information officially released by the organizing committee of the meeting has been a letter sent to the invited bishops. As Voices of Faith pointed out in a previous statement, this step is encouraging but by no means enough when even simple measures such as publishing the questionnaire that accompanied this letter were not taken.

Virginia Saldanha: “We would like to know, what on the agenda puts on the table the assurance of Pope Francis in his letter to the People of God that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”

We are painfully aware that the abuse of vulnerable adults appears to be omitted at this meeting. Pope Francis has rightly said that “if one suffers the whole Church suffers.” Why is the suffering of vulnerable adult victims being ignored? We are concerned that no known efforts have been made by Bishops to meet with women victims of clerical abuse.”

Less than six weeks remain. The stakes are high and the Vatican needs to take the steps required by the current crisis: Choose transparency, hear the survivors and experts who have been working for years with this issue, make space for women’s voices.

Voices of Faith stands in solidarity with survivors and all who wish a better future for our Catholic Church. This impels us to continue demanding that the three basic requirements for the February meeting are met.

About Voices of Faith

Voices of Faith works towards a prophetic Catholic Church where women's voices count, through participation and leadership on equal footing with men. They initiate campaigns extensively to promote women’s leadership in the Church. To find out more, go to www.voicesoffaith.org

For media inquiries for Voices of Faith, please contact:

Zuzanna Flisowska

General Manager, Rome

E: zuzanna.flisowska@voicesoffaith.org

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