As synod on Catholic Church’s future begins, abuse survivors demand equal time

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Religion

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — As Catholic bishops and lay believers meet in Rome this month for a historic Vatican summit to discuss power structures in the church, sexual abuse survivors and their advocates say their topic will be on everyone’s minds but nobody’s agenda.The Synod on Synodality, which runs Oct. 4-29, has been called to tackle questions of clergy leadership and accountability, but above all clericalism, which occurs when the ordained claim special privileges or are treated as if they are above reproach. These questions are central to the issue of sexual abuse, itself strongly tied to how power is used and where it is distributed in the church.
Sexual abuse appears 20 times in the 60-page “Instrumentum Laboris,” the working document that will guide discussions at the synod, a frequency survivors point to in voicing concerns that while sexual abuse may be mentioned at the synod, they should expect no significant movement on the issue.
“The concerns of clergy abuse victims, who have long borne the consequences of unconscionable decisions made at the highest levels, still have no place in the decision-making process,” read a statement Friday (Sept. 29) by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP. “Until this changes, the …

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