VATICAN CITY (AP) – A Polish survivor of clergy sex abuse says a meeting with Pope Francis and the kiss the pontiff planted on his hand shows Francis' good will in addressing the problem of priests molesting children.
Have No Fear foundation founder Marek Lisinski told Poland's TVN24 channel he could see “true sadness and concern” and even tears in the pope's eyes during Francis' meeting with Polish activists on Wednesday.
They gave Francis a report listing hundreds of alleged cases of priests sexually abusing children in Poland.
Lisinski says abuse survivors in Poland are still waiting for redress from the Roman Catholic Church.
But he says the Vatican meeting and Francis' unexpected kissing of his hand was a “great, great thing in my life in which I place great hope.”
Catholic Church leaders attending a landmark Vatican summit on preventing clergy sex abuse have heard videotaped testimony from victims of the trauma of their abuse and the cruel indifference shown to them by bishops and religious superiors.
One woman from Africa told the summit that the priest who began raping her at age 15 forced her to have three abortions, and beat her when she refused him sex.
A survivor from Chile told the bishops and religious superiors they had inflicted even more pain on victims by discrediting them and protecting the priests who abused.
He told them: “You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed – in some cases – into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith.”
A Colombian cardinal has warned fellow Roman Catholic bishops at a Vatican summit they could be imprisoned for covering up crimes if they don't properly deal with clergy sex abuse cases.
In a remarkable speech at the abuse prevention summit, Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez on Thursday also denounced how bishops tend to believe priests over people reporting abuse allegations.
Salazar, the archbishop of Bogota, also blasted the confidentiality agreements often attached to Catholic Church financial settlements with victims as an attempt to “buy their silence.”
Salazar proposed an obligatory code of conduct that outlines clear norms and penalties when bishops fall short in their handling of sexual abuse, an astonishing proposal from a cardinal of a country where the scandal hasn't erupted in full.
U.S. bishops proposed a similar code of conduct after their credibility was undermined by the scandal last year.