"Zero tolerance". The speech is repeated again and again on the other side of the Tiber, but the results never finish. Pope Benedict XVI began and Francisco continued with the same words. But what does it really mean? The victims, gathered these days in Rome to pressure the participants of the historic summit that will address the plague of abuses in the Catholic Church from Thursday, want this time a clear answer.
The Holy See seeks a cathartic effect to the greatest crisis that has lived in recent decades through this meeting. The convocation in Rome of 190 religious leaders (between presidents of episcopal, curial and oriental churches) is a turning point which will determine, to a large extent, the future of the Church. But the expectation is so great that the Vatican fears it could become a double-edged sword. "The idea of these days is for the bishops to understand that the party is over. That it is time to apply the law. But the Pope has a very hard job to convince them, "says a senior Vatican official.
Four of the organizers (Hans Zollner, the archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, the Cardinal and Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Joseph Cupich, and Federico Lombardi) presented the staging of the event yesterday. There was no room in the room. Media from around the world have landed in Rome this week to closely follow the development of the event. On the street, the victims were already beginning to organize to demand that the Pope fulfill his promise. Peter Isely, spokesman Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), the global association of survivors of abuse, launched the first claim in the Plaza de San Pedro. "There must be a universal law in which if you are a priest, a nun, a bishop … and you have raped a child, a vulnerable adult, you must be removed from the priesthood and handed over to the civil authorities. Point. And the same for those who have covered up. That's zero tolerance: no excuse. "
As a synod
The staging of the meeting will be similar to a synod. During three days, the 190 participants will meet in the Paolo VI hall of the Vatican under the same scheme and three central themes: the responsibility of the bishops, accountability and transparency. The summit will begin with the testimony of five victims through a recorded video. Each day there will be several presentations, 10 working groups divided by languages and a session of daily conclusions. On Sunday morning, the Pope will give a closing speech in which there could be an announcement that quenches the thirst of the victims to obtain some concrete measure after the summit.
The episcopal conferences should have met with the victims and filled out a questionnaire about their activity. The questions in the preparatory document focused on the current situation of the problem of abuses in the local Church; the level of awareness of this issue among the public; the most important risk factors in sexual abuse; the factors that contribute to an adequate absence of responses and the most effective prevention measures that the country in question has adopted to protect minors. Ollner confirmed yesterday that 89% have done it and that they do not know if everyone has met with the victims. In the Spanish case, for example, its main representatives, such as Miguel Hurtado, abused by the monk Andreu Soler in Montserrat, had no record of it yesterday.
The Vatican, aware of the limited presence of victims in this type of debate, has called on representatives from all over the world to participate in the summit that begins on Thursday. They will do it in person, through messages recorded on video and, in most cases, without transcending their identity. But the most combative voice of the main global association (Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) can only be heard in a previous meeting that organizers of the meeting will hold on Wednesday with 12 of them.) His spokesman, Peter Isely, reminded the bishops that they need no one to speak for them, and least of all the Catholic hierarchy, which is why, throughout the week, they will carry out acts of protest throughout Rome.
Among the representatives who will participate on Wednesday at the meeting is the Spaniard Miguel Hurtado, victim of the monk of Montserrat, Andreu Soler. "If the Pope really wanted to solve the problem, the meeting would be three weeks and not three days. But it can be positive because the eyes of the world are placed in the Vatican .. They have to take action now because if not in 5 years nobody will believe them, "he pointed to the doors of the room where the press conference had been held to present the event.
For Hurtado, it is key to define the concept of "zero tolerance", something that Spanish bishops, denounce, have not respected. It is a concept that the Pope repeats over and over again and should clarify. In more advanced countries, zero tolerance means that if a priest abuses a child once, he goes to the street. But that only applies to harsh penalties in Ireland and the US. In Spain there are priests condemned by justice and who have admitted the crimes, who continue to be part of the Church. That zero tolerance of the Spanish bishops nobody believes it. "
The majority feeling among the victims is that the summit seeks only a wash of image. If there are no concrete measures, it will not help, says Hurtado. "Abuses of minors are crimes and must be judged by judges, not by bishops."