Vatican holds summit to fight sexual abuse by priests

Catholic leaders from around the world gathered in Rome on Monday for a Vatican summit on how the church could end sexual abuse of children by priests, the BBC reported.

Bishops from more than 100 countries joined to discuss how to produce guidelines on how to deal with abusive priests and how to help police prosecute pedophile crime. The summit will take place over the next four days.

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Pope Benedict XVI will issue a special blessing for the closed-door summit, which will also open a child protection center in Germany to fight sex abuse by the clergy in the Catholic Church across the world, the AFP reported. The summit, called “Towards Healing and Renewal,” also includes a church service on Tuesday, which will include representatives of seven religious orders, which had clergy, who abused children, to plead for forgiveness, the AFP reported.

However victims’ groups have slammed the summit for not inviting them and have called it a PR stunt, the AFP reported.

"You don't need a jolly in Rome to learn what the right thing to do is," said Sue Cox from Survivors Voice, a coalition of victim support groups covering Britain, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States, the AFP reported. "This is just a PR stunt. It's just theater really. It's no use whatsoever.” Cox is a victim of abuse by a priest.

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"You can have all the symposiums you want but why don't you open a constructive debate,” said Roberto Mirabile, head of the Italian victims support group La Caramella Buona, the AFP reported.

Mary Collins from Ireland was the only victim invited to attend the summit, the BBC reported. When she was 13 a hospital chaplain in Dublin raped her.

"Despite apologies for the actions of the abusers, there have been few apologies for protection given to them by their superiors," Collins said, the BBC reported. “There seems to be a lack of penalty for any of these men in leadership who deliberately or negligently covered up for abusers."

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