By Melissa Butz
It’s been one year since Pope Francis’ historic summit to address clergy sex abuse. Survivor-victims are gathering in Rome and they say the Pope’s fight to protect young and vulnerable people is gaining steam. Survivors say great progress has been made, and more is needed.
To be back at the Vatican seems like déjà-vu for Peter Isely, a childhood victim of clerical sex abuse. He recalls his time in Rome just a year ago, for the Sex Abuse Summit called for by Pope Francis.
The founder of Ending Clergy Abuse says until there is no more abuse, he will continue to advocate for victims. Yet, he admits in the course of the year, he has seen some progress.
“One is that for the Vatican State, there’s going to be a change in their statute, just there, for child sex abuse. The second change was about whistle-blowers. You know, that if you report you’re just going to be no reprisal or whatever, if you do it,” said Isely.
Isely named the third change as the destruction of papal secrecy.
He said while it’s taken time, the United States has especially made moves to fight abuse.
Additionally, dioceses throughout the world have organized church offices to receive abuse cases and the legal process has been clarified in many areas.
As a survivor, he admits he would like more done to protect each and every member of the Church; and as an activist, he says he will continue to fight until this safety is achieved.
Advocacy organizations, Ending Clergy Abuse and Bishops Accountability, both organized events in Rome throughout the week to highlight the change made, call for more transparency and demand zero tolerance yet again.
Here in the United States, much has been done to combat sexual abuse long before the Pope’s monumental summit.
The United States bishops have been credited for being on the forefront of policies that have been enacted by the universal church.
For example, in the U.S., a policy of zero tolerance has been in place since the 2002 Dallas Charter.
In addition, the U.S. bishops have long had an existing framework that includes victim outreach, reporting allegations to civil authorities and lay expertise on review boards.