Pope Francis Opens Summit on Sexual Abuse: ‘Hear the Cry of the Little Ones’ – The New York Times

He insisted that easy-to-use reporting mechanisms needed to be put in place and all protocols closely followed so that people “should know that we mean business.”

He gave the bishops a detailed account of what exactly they were supposed to do and recalled that Pope Benedict XVI was clear on eradicating the root causes of the problem nearly a decade ago.

He talked about how candidates for the priesthood needed to undergo more rigorous screening and that existing rules of canon law needed to be better applied.

With the pope sitting beside him, the archbishop told his audience that the faithful “have the duty and the right” to report abuse and that “civil or domestic laws should be obeyed.”

He instructed them to rely on experts and said that they must apply their judgment, and act in the best interests of children, when the “dilemma” arises of a church trial finding that a priest is not entirely innocent, even if the allegations against him are unproven. Guilty verdicts, he said, should be promptly communicated, publicly, to the faithful.

But some of the bishops in the hall said this was not a new lesson.

“These things are known,” Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, president of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, said as he walked out of the Vatican on his lunch break. “There is nothing new.”

During the discussion period, some African bishops asked why the conference was focusing on clerical sexual abuse and not other vital concerns facing young people in war-torn countries, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, said at a news conference.

In his own opening remarks, Pope Francis, sitting front and center, again made clear that this was a priority for his church, but also for the legacy of his pontificate. “We need concreteness,” he said.

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