Vatican meeting shows a church incapable of holding itself to account

Pope refuses to create a Vatican tribunal to try bishops who ignore or cover up abuse

Pope Francis, cardinals and bishops at the opening of a global child protection summit for reflections on the sex abuse crisis within the Catholic Church,  February 21st at the Vatican. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Pope Francis, cardinals and bishops at the opening of a global child protection summit for reflections on the sex abuse crisis within the Catholic Church, February 21st at the Vatican. Photograph: AFP/Getty

It is more than 30 years since the scandal of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church began to emerge across the English-speaking world.

At first a few isolated survivors told their stories, soon followed by an avalanche of revelations. Regardless of the location, the same patterns appear: disclosures followed by cover-ups, priests relocated to abuse again. The church’s response has been abysmal, and it is only through investigations by the civil authorities that we now know the full truth. In Ireland, the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne reports each revealed the same dismal pattern: children were recklessly endangered to protect the status of the church.

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