CNN - September 16, 2010
Church abuse survivors demand justice
By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
As a sex abuse scandal rocked the Roman Catholic Church, what did Pope Benedict XVI -- then a cardinal and Vatican official -- know, and when did he learn it? Watch the CNN investigation "What the Pope Knew," September 25 & 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
London, England (CNN) -- Sue Cox was 10 years old when she says she was raped by a priest in her family home on the eve of her Confirmation, a sacrament which signifies the cementing of bonds between baptised believers and the Church.
The attack occurred in her bedroom while her family was downstairs. "I was mortified. I started to self-harm. I was ashamed and guilty," she said. Her mother told her: "Perhaps it was one of God's plans."
"It wasn't one of His better ones," Cox said.
Now in her 60s, Cox was one of five abuse survivors who Wednesday urged Pope Benedict XVI to turn over information on abuse claims against the clergy ahead of his arrival in the UK Thursday.
"We want action, we've had the apologies... we need the pope to say, 'I will hand over all information I have on abusing priests wherever they are in the world to the authorities where these people are being protected,'" said Peter Saunders, chief executive of the UK's National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).
The Catholic Church is facing allegations of child abuse committed by priests in a number of countries, including the pope's native Germany, as well as Belgium, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and the United States.
Last month, Cox wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.
It read: "I am so sick and tired of being patronized, anonymized and disregarded by the Church. And the recent obsequious apologies that have come from your offices are doing nothing to help people like me, they are simply making matters worse."
She doesn't want an apology or a meeting with the pope.
"Why the hell would we want to be wheeled out to comply with this campaign? What would abuse victims want to be a part of the PR stunt?" she said Wednesday.
Pope Benedict has met a number of abuse victims during recent papal visits, but meetings are always conducted in private, Archbishop Nichols told CNN.
"There are very clear rules that operate. One is that this meeting is never announced beforehand and secondly, that it takes place in private, which is, I think, proper," he said.
"Whether that pattern is continued of meeting with victims of abuse, we have to wait and see. But, it will not be announced beforehand and any such visit will take place in private," Archbishop Nichols said.
None of the people alleging to be victims of priest abuse who spoke Wednesday said they had any plans to meet the pope, nor knew of any victims who had scheduled meetings.
Margaret Kennedy's support group, Ministry and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS), works with abuse victims from any Christian denomination.
She said the strict rules governing private meetings with the pope amounted to a "replication" of abuse, where the power remained in the hands of the church and victims were forced to comply.
"He (the pope) is replicating the abuse the clergy abuse survivors have experienced; everything behind closed doors, nothing to be spoken of," she said.
Kennedy says she was raped by an Anglican priest when she was 12 but she adds: "I do know what it is like to have a man with a collar around his neck invade you."
As a leader of MACSAC she appealed to the Catholic Church to bring those responsible for abuse to account.
"Why don't you open the file, why don't you have an inquiry, why don't you lay aside priests? Why don't you give us the truth, justice and accountability now," she said as she banged her fist on a heavy bound book containing survivors' stories.
Archbishop Nichols said Pope Benedict had issued a number of apologies to abuse victims, and he expected him to do the same again during his visit to Britain.
"He has already on a number of occasions expressed his dismay, his sorrow, he's said to have wept with victims of abuse and I don't think there is any doubt that he understands," Archbishop Nichols said.
He added that the Catholic Church in the UK had been struggling to work through issues arising from the abuse scandal for years but acknowledged there was more work to do.
"I think we know that the work of responding well to victims of abuse, to putting in systems in place in the Church that make sure that it's a safe environment for youngsters and for vulnerable people, that's a long haul," he said, adding, "that's continuing work and I think in this country, we do have experience now that we can share with others," he said.
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The Guardian - UK September 17, 2010
Abuse victims still hope for private audience with Benedict
Many of those abused by priests and nuns say their only recourse so far has been to shout at the popemobile as it passes
Hopes remain that the pope will find a few spare minutes in his schedule to meet privately with abuse victims, but for many of those who suffered, shouting at Benedict as he passed by in the popemobile yesterday was their only hope of being heard by the head of the church, which they claim ruined their lives.
"Come on you coward! Come and talk to me! Don't hide behind your institution and your fancy clothes!" yelled Corneilius Crowley, 51, from County Cork, who said he had suffered years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic nuns and priests while at boarding schools in Ireland in the 1960s. "Paedophile protector!" shouted a woman clutching a "no grope-mobile" banner.
It was "cathartic" to see the pope up close and personal, said Crowley, stressing that he wished him no harm. "I just want him to have the courage and to have enough heart to turn around and excise this from the religion," he said calmly.
Other victims were openly furious. Bill Maloney, a film maker who said he and his seven siblings were abused at Catholic orphanages, said he wanted the pope to resign. "He doesn't follow Jesus's teachings – he preaches about being good to the poor but lives in a closed world of opulence and riches," he said.
"My sister was raped aged five and I was abused by a nun who said she would teach me to fly and then hurled me across the room."
Pilgrims agreed the abuse scandal had brought shame on the religion and that more ought to be done and have been done - about abusive priests.
"Some people seem to believe that all priests are paedophiles," said Barbara O'Driscoll, a pilgrim from a church in north London. "But the way I see it, Jesus chose 12 apostles and one betrayed him. It's the human condition."
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U.K. abuse survivor tells how she was molested at 10 and raped at 13 by the same Catholic priest
BBC documentary investigates what the Pope knew about clergy abuse