In the decades since the crisis of clerical sexual abuse of children first exploded, the Roman Catholic church has struggled to resolve a scourge that has eroded its credibility, driven away the faithful and stained its priests, bishops, cardinals and popes.
On Monday, as the Vatican prepared for a meeting that will include Pope Francis and the presidents of the world’s bishops conferences, the church was still looking for a way forward.
“My hope is that people see this as a turning point,” Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said at a Vatican news conference. He said he hoped the meeting, titled “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” would be a “rallying moment” to make sure all the bishops were on the same page.
The four-day meeting, which begins on Thursday, will bring together 190 participants, including 114 presidents of bishops’ conferences or their delegates, representatives from 14 Eastern churches in communion with Rome, female and male leaders of religious orders and the chiefs of several Vatican congregations.
Victims of sexual abuse will speak of their experiences during evening prayers but will not otherwise address the meeting. About a dozen survivors will meet with the meeting’s organizers on Wednesday, abuse survivors said.