In a letter to the heads of Bishops’ Conferences, the four Members of the Organizing Committee for “The protection of minors in the Church” meeting urge attendees “to reach out and visit with victims of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.”
The Organizing Committee is composed of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, and Fr. Hans Zollner SJ.
Pope Francis convoked the presidents of Bishops’ Conferences around the world for a 21-24 February gathering in the Vatican.
In a separate statement, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, said meeting with abuse survivors “is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened.” He said the meeting on the protection of minors “will focus on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.”
In their letter, the organizers invite participants to come together “in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.”
“The Holy Father has asked us to thank you for your support in completing the attached questionnaire to better prepare for the meeting, and to urgently invite you to take up this road together. The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met,” they write.
The letter also contained a questionnaire for the Bishops to fill out, calling it a tool for participants “to express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.”