The Vatican Summit on Sex Abuse

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The contrast was little short of amazing. On the one hand, you had the experience inside the synod hall by the end of last week’s Vatican abuse summit, with talk of a new resolve and clarity. On the other, you had the scorn from victims’ groups who saw only missed opportunities.

Nothing like this had ever been done before: to use a synodal process to effect a global institutional conversion aimed at overcoming mechanisms of denial and resistance. Inside, 190 church leaders were becoming crusaders against child abuse, a shift that was especially notable among the presidents of bishops’ conferences from Asia and Africa, some of whom began the February 21–24 meeting saying this wasn’t their problem. Yet outside, survivors’ spokespeople said the summit was just a wordy exercise for show, one that avoided the real task.

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