Victims of sexual abuse associated with members of the clergy of the Catholic Church have come forward in recent decades to tell their stories and inform the public of the wrongs to which they were subjected. Though each individual story varies among the victims, several themes remain true: young children were sexually assaulted by a small segment of priests and in some cases, the actions of these priests were concealed or covered up by higher ranking officials.
The news that children have suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church is no longer new but steps taken recently by Pope Francis are, or at least his actions seem to signal a shift in the treatment of these victims by the highest ranking members of the Church.
For the first time in his papacy, Pope Francis met with six victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse on Sunday evening and again on Monday. The victims were from three European nations and took place within the confines of Vatican City. Though the prior pope, Benedict XVI, met with victims during his regin as head of the Church, those meetings took place as Pope Benedict XVI traveled. The meetings held by Pope Francis are the first reported to occur on the grounds of the Vatican.
According to Church officials, the Pope met with the six victims, who have not been identified by name or age, on Sunday evening before participating with them in a Monday morning mass. Reportedly, Pope Benedict met with each victim individually as well and discussed the abuse the victims had suffered. Officials have reported that the Pope begged for the forgiveness of the victims, both for the abuse but also for the actions of Church officials who acted to obscure or cover up the crimes.
Some are now claiming that Pope Francis’ actions this week indicate a shift in the perception of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and a renewed effort to put the needs of victims first. Yet for many who have suffered at the hands of those they trusted most, the Pope’s actions may be too little, too late.
Sexually abusing a minor is a crime in Illinois and in every other state in the nation. Those who commit these crimes against children often face criminal charges and may be sentenced to jail time. But for the victims, the damage can last a lifetime with injuries and suffering that never go away.
The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. have worked with co-counsel on behalf of several sexual abuse victims who suffered at the hands of priests in the Catholic Church because at Abels & Annes, P.C., we believe that victims deserve to have an advocate on their side, fighting for their rights.
If you or your loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a religious official, church employee, or other agent of the Catholic Church, you may be entitled to relief. Our lawyers are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to take your call and help you understand your legal options. We will provide you with a free, no obligation case consultation and you can reach us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575.
If you have been victimized by the actions of another, do not suffer in silence. Call us today and let us help you get the relief you deserve.
Prior Blog Entry:
4th of July May Have Brought Injuries with Celebrations, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 7, 2014.
Pope Francis to sex victims: ‘I beg your forgiveness,’ by Eric J. Lyman, USA Today, published July 7, 2014.