Vatican abuse summit: Cardinal says files were destroyed

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"It is the witness of the laity, especially mothers and fathers with great love for the church, who have pointed out movingly and forcefully how gravely incompatible the commission, coverup and toleration of clergy sexual abuse is with the very meaning and essence of the church", Cupich said.

But this, he stressed, requires action.

He told the gathering of 190 leaders of bishops' conferences and religious orders that they bore the responsibility to "listen to the cry of the young who want justice". It is the first time in the history of the clerical sexual scandals of recent decades that bishops from across the world have discussed episcopal accountability over abuse.

But the tribunal posed a host of legal and bureaucratic issues and ran into opposition from bishops and the Vatican bureaucracy.

It wasn't until she became a Catholic school teacher, when sexual abuse prevention courses were introduced in the curriculum she began understanding how she was victimized. He said there should be clear mechanisms that were "well known to the faithful" for reporting allegations against bishops. The result, he said, had left a "deep wound in our relationship with those we are sent to serve".

"I would've never imagined I'd be here", Huggins said. When a metropolitan is accused, he explained, another archbishop or senior prelate would be called to investigate.

He proposed that metropolitan bishops - who are responsible for other bishops in their geographic area - should be tasked with conducting the investigations, with the help of lay experts.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, of Chicago, presented 12 ideas, including giving laypeople power to investigate accusations of misconduct, instead of waiting for Rome to come up with the answers.

During a briefing for journalists the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who is President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, says he is expecting the Vatican to issue a clarification on the implementation of the 2016 ruling.

As part of the discussions Thursday, the church leaders watched video testimonies of clergy sexual abuse from male and female victims from around the world.

In what appeared to be a reference to the McCarrick case, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai told the conference that bishops should "fraternally correct" each other.

Leading cardinals told the four-day conference yesterday that the Church must fix the "systematic failures" that enabled sexual abuse to take root around the world, and bishops should start policing each other's behaviour. Although the Catholic Church is officially staunchly pro-life, the priest forced her to have three abortions over a 12-year time span. "These are all events that sharply contradict what the Church should stand for", Marx said.

Dr Ghisoni argued for reforming legislation over "Pontifical Secrecy", a code of confidentiality which places a strict burden of secrecy on certain pieces of information. They then placed children's underwear in one of the statue's hands and a white lace church vestment worn by altar boys on the statue's body.

The US Catholic Church is undergoing one of the worst crises in its history following last week's defrocking of a former cardinal, American Theodore McCarrick, - for sexually abusing a teenager 50 years ago. "And I see that willingness there - that's what gives me hope". On Thursday, at the beginning of the unprecedented summit, Francis urged the bishops to take "concrete measures" to combat the clergy abuse scandal. And in his speech, he recognised the disconnect between bishops and people that the abuse crisis had revealed.

"Our lack of response to the suffering of victims, yes even to the point of rejecting them and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution, has injured our people", Tagle said in his speech.

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