As worldwide synod of bishops on young people and vocations begins in Rome global survivors of clergy abuse call for action against abuse in seminaries.

Group wants synod to embrace zero tolerance of sexual violence, cover up by bishops and demand Vatican compliance with UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Statement by Peter Isely, Founding Member, Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA).

October 2, 2018. Bishops around the world will convene on Wednesday October 3rd in Rome to begin a month-long synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment.  The purpose of the synod is to discuss and make recommendations to Pope Francis.  They are meeting during an unprecedented global crisis of sexual assault of youngsters by clergy and the cover up of these crimes by bishops and Vatican officials.  Fueling the crisis are the growing revelations of widespread abuse of minors and young adults in Catholic seminaries around the world, including in the United States, Honduras, Spain and Rome itself, the seat of the Papacy.

Seminaries have historically been vulnerable locations for abuse.  Among the abusers are some of the most senior members of the church, like former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington DC.  Sexual predators like McCarrick have had a readymade pipeline to potential victims in the seminary system of the Catholic Church.  Three Popes have been implicated in knowing about McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians, including Pope Francis but also his predecessors Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II.   This begs the question says Peter Isely, “If sexual violence and cover up is embedded in the institutional centers for the training of future priests, no matter who the Pope has been, is it any surprise that it has been permitted or tolerated everywhere else in the church?”

“Francis and his bishops are once again being given an unprecedented and historic opportunity to turn the corner on the crisis during the synod, which, after all, is going to be discussing young people, sexuality and vocations for almost a month.” Says ECA Board Member Dr. Denise Buchanan. “But nowhere on the agenda of the synod or its working document, Instrumentum Laboris, can be found clergy sexual abuse, the abuse of seminarians, or cover up of sex crimes by bishops and the Vatican.”  Francis has been presented with the draft of the document and has approved of the agenda.

To have any credibility, the synod is going to have to first admit there is a problem, then address it and focus on the solutions.  It can do so by immediately agreeing on several action steps the Pope must take:

  1. The immediate compliance of the Vatican with the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The Vatican is in violation of several key sections of the basic provisions of the treaty that ensure the human rights of children are respected and enforced.
  2. Release all church files in the Vatican and around the world related to credible allegations of sexual abuse.
  3. Legislating zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children under church law.  Currently no such global law exists in the church.
  4. Legislating zero tolerance for the cover up of sex crimes by bishops under church law.  No such global law or its enforcement exists under current church rules.
  5. The publication by the Vatican of a registry of all clerics worldwide who have sexually assaulted or abused children or vulnerable adults, including seminarians.

The word “synod”, derived from two Greek words syn meaning “together” and hodos meaning “way”, means a “coming together” in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application.  What could more universally valid than zero tolerance for child sexual abuse and the abuse of seminarians and covering up those crimes?

Survivors from Rete L’ABUSO and Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA Global) will be present and available for comment at media events during the synod from October 2-3. From ECA Global: Matthias Katsch, spokesperson with ECKIGER TISCH (Squared Table) and member of the board of ECA Global from Germany, Marek Lisiński, President of the Foundation Nie lękajcie sie from Poland, Lieve Halsberghe, activist from Belgium. From Rete L’Abuso, Francesco Zanardi and representatives from the Association Sordi Provolo of Verona will be present.


For Rete L’ABUSO
Francesco Zanardi

For Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA)
Matthias Katsch, ECA Global Founding and Board Member,
Tel: +49 (0) 1781674838


Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) is a global justice organization of prominent clergy abuse survivor leaders and human rights activists from over 18 countries and 4 continents. ECA compels the Roman Catholic Church to end clergy abuse, especially child sexual abuse, in order to protect children and to seek justice for victims. – @ENDCLERGYABUSE –

Rete L’ABUSO “Associazione dei sopravvissuti agli abusi sessuali del clero”
Rete L’ABUSO è un’organizzazione no profit che combattere gli abusi sessuali su minori, in particolare quelli commessi dalle confessioni religiose.
Creata dalle vittime nel 2010, oggi, oltre a fornire assistenza gratuita alle vittime, sul suo blog ospita un dettagliato database dei casi raccolti in una mappa che rende davvero l’idea del fenomeno in Italia.