News / Europe

Childhood Sex Abuse Victims to March on Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he is driven through the crowd in St. Peter's Square during a pep rally for Catholic youths, at the Vatican, 30 Oct 2010
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he is driven through the crowd in St. Peter's Square during a pep rally for Catholic youths, at the Vatican, 30 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Sabina Castelfranco

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are gathering in Rome this weekend and will attempt to march on Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican to demand the Catholic Church do more to protect children and hold abusers accountable.

A few hundred people from a dozen countries are expected to take part in events organized in Rome to raise awareness and promote discussion of what they say is "the worldwide issue of childhood sexual abuse."

Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron, founders of Survivors Voice, say this is the first time that abuse survivors from around the world will come together for a day of healing and to demand greater accountability from the Vatican.

As children they were both abused by the same priest, Father Joseph Birmingham, in different cities in the Boston area. They were altar boys and say they were abused at school, in the church, in the basement of the rectory, in the car.

McDaid says that abuse can never be forgotten.

"It changed my whole life and the effects of that are shattering and they need to be dealt with by not only the individual, but by the world now and not be denied or covered-up," said McDaid.

On Sunday abuse survivors and supporters are gathering in Castel Sant'Angelo on the Tiber River. They plan to lead a candlelight march to the Vatican on what they have dubbed Reformation Day.

Gary Bergeron says the aim is also to help those who are suffering stand up and rid themselves of the guilt and shame associated with this problem.

"We're hopeful that the world can start to reform the way it addresses the issue of childhood sexual abuse," said Bergeron.  "It's a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed and it's time that we start speaking about it."

Italian police have denied abuse survivors authorization to enter Saint Peter's Square as a group. But they say they are planning to carry out their demonstration anyway. They say they do not fear detention.

McDaid was one of the first abuse victims to meet with Pope Benedict in Washington in 2008. Bergeron says they are also planning to launch a petition.

"We are asking the world to join us in petitioning the U.N. to include the systemic sexual abuse of children under article 7 of its childhood definitions of crimes against humanity," added Bergeron.

Organizers say they will declare the 12 months beginning Sunday, the Year of the Survivor. They want the Catholic Church to do more to protect children.

Pope Benedict has several times apologized for abuse committed by Catholic priests and met with victims during some of his foreign visits. The Vatican says tougher measures have been put in place to screen out seminarians that could become abusers.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid