See church as an ally, Vatican tells priest abuse victims

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Gulf Times (gulf-times.com)01 November 2010AFP/Vatican City 

Victims of sex abuse by priests should see the Roman Catholic Church as an ally in their fight for justice, the Vatican’s spokesman said in a letter made public yesterday.

Father Federico Lombardi had been greeted by cries of “Shame on you!” from around 60 victims of abuse and their families when he approached them as they demonstrated near St. Peter’s Basilica with banners and torches on Sunday.

He quickly left but later met the organisers of the protesters, who came from Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and the US and handed them the unofficial letter.

Lombardi said sexual abuse was one of the great scourges of the world and what had happened in the church was only a small part of it.

The church had to give a good example in fighting the problem, he added, and called on victims to join forces with the Vatican, seeing it as a possible ally.

The victims had hoped to lead a candle-lit vigil to the edge of St Peter’s Square to leave personal messages for Pope Benedict XVI.

But the Vatican refused to give permission to enter the square and 25 police officers blocked the torch-bearing protesters.

In the end only Gary Bergeron, who co-founded the US group Survivor’s Voice with Bernie McDaid, and another victim managed to walk up to the Vatican, though they put out their torches before entering the square.

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