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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019
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Church abuse victims march on the Vatican

The international protest by victims of clerical sexual abuse ends with a candlelit march toward St Peter’s Square.

Demonstrators hold candles during a protest near St. Peter's Square last night after police stopped them from marching into the Vatican.
Demonstrators hold candles during a protest near St. Peter's Square last night after police stopped them from marching into the Vatican.
Image: Pier Paolo Cito/AP

A GROUP OF victims of clerical sex abuse, with members from around the world, marched in a candlelit vigil on Rome last night in a bid to raise awareness of their suffering and in protest at the perceived inaction of the Catholic Church in tackling it.

About 100 protestors from over a dozen countries – including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Britain, Italy and the UK - took part in the march, which called on Pope Benedict to act more decisively on clerical abusers and demanded that the United Nations declare child abuse to be a crime against humanity.

55 of those marching had been abused in a notorious Catholic institute for the deaf based in Verona, about 400 miles south of Rome.

Dressed in white, the group also asked the Vatican to publish the names of members of the clergy who had been guilty of abuse.

The demonstrators were not allowed to march to within Vatican boundaries, however, with Roman police blockading the streets toward St Peter’s Square. They were permitted, however, to leave letters near the obelisk in the square to mark their visit.

One of the march’s organisers, David Furdon, said the victims simply wanted more effective action taken by the church to purge sex offenders from the church.

“He apologises all over the world but doesn’t do anything about it,” Furdon said.

“I just personally feel a kind of hopelessness in asking priests to do this,” added Terry McKiernan, the president of BishopAccountability.org.

A Vatican spokesman who met with the protestors after their march, had initially backed off from meeting the group after protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!” at him as he approached,

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Gavan Reilly

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