April 05, 2005

Abuse victims hope for new help in fight

The Olympian


Victims of the sex-abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church praised Pope John Paul II's words condemning the crimes but said they hope the next pontiff will do more to punish those who protect abusive priests.

"I think he reached out to people at a level never done before by previous popes in working on peace and compassion, but when the issue of abuse arose within his own organization, that was a real test," said Sue Archibald, an abuse victim who is president of The Linkup, a group that assists victims of clergy abuse.

"He really could've done a lot more in addressing the issues and reaching out to people who had been wounded."

The January 2002 trial of a former priest accused of sexual abuse unleashed a flood of accusations that sparked the worst scandal to hit the U.S. Catholic Church.

More than 4,300 priests allegedly have abused more than 10,000 children and teenagers since 1950, according to a 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The scandal has cost the church more than $900 million in settlements, leading some dioceses to declare bankruptcy.

The pope summoned U.S. cardinals to Rome in April 2002, telling them that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young."

Posted by kshaw at April 5, 2005 07:50 AM