Abuse Survivors Speak & Met With Summit Officials

Tags: Currents Faith, Pope Francis, World News

Currents News Staff

Victims with stories of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church. Ten of these survivors met with Summit organizers in Rome, explaining their pain ahead of the meeting kickoff on Thursday.

His story of sexual abuse is so famous, a movie was made about it, “Spotlight.” Phil Saviano says as an 11-year-old boy in Boston, he thought Fr. David Holley’s interest made him important, until it went too far.

“It was a tremendous sense of being trapped because I didn’t know how to… he would call me and I would verbalize excuses like, I’m going to be late for supper. I have to get back to the paper. He was not taking no for an answer,” said Saviano.

He said the months that ensued were gruesome, but the worst part was seeing the priest in Church on Sunday and in the confessional.

“I went into confession, I said whenever my sins were. I yelled at my mother, whatever. And then I’d say, you know the rest. And there was silence coming from the other side of that screen,” he said.

In Vancouver, Canada, Leona Huggins also has a personal story of abuse beginning in 1974. She didn’t realize she had been abused, until taking a Child Abuse Prevention course in the 90s.

“I recognized that that was what happened to me and I discovered that he was starting a new group where he would be working with children. That concerned me, so I went to the police at much personal cost,” said Leona Huggins an abuse victim from Vancouver, Canada.

Coming out of their three-and-a-half-hour meeting with the members of the Summit organizing committee, the victims said it was a positive meeting, but rules need to be enforced.

“Abusing a child, raping a boy or a girl or abusing vulnerable adults or vulnerable people has been wrong since the Middle Ages, in the first century, now, and it will be, so that’s not an excuse and that needs to end,” said Juan Carlos Cruz an abuse victim from Chile.

“Although we were told that the pope wouldn’t be there at this meeting, we were disappointed that he wasn’t. Because he called this Summit. He said he wanted to make a difference,” said Huggins.

“I say if there was ever a good time for transparency now is it. :32 FLASH :44 But you have to give concrete signs that you’re really coming up with a good plan to trust us and it can’t be just talk,” said Saviano.

But they also feel an intense responsibility.

“We feel that we represent so many survivors from all over the world. It’s a heavy weight to have when you carry and you think of all those people that are counting on you to make a positive change,” said Cruz.

After this encounter, the victims now believe the Summit is an “educational session” for bishops to understand abuse, instead of a meeting on enforcing zero-tolerance.