Survivors and activists involved in the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have joined forces to launch an international organisation in Geneva to force the Church to end abuse and the impunity of bishops.
"The Church has escaped with its crimes for too long," Peter Saunders, a British survivor of abuse and founder of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday, announcing the creation of the Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA) organisationexternal link.
The ECA comprises over 25 clergy abuse survivors and other activists from 15 countries and four continents, who represent the founding members of the first international network of Catholic survivor groups. ECA wants to hold the Vatican accountable for ending child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church around the world.
The ECA is urging the pope to use his upcoming visit to Geneva on June 21 to announce strong measures against abuse. It wants him to investigate bishops across the world who have mishandled sex abuse cases and to commit to creating a central mechanism for holding bishops accountable.
During the press conference over a dozen members of the new organisation held up their national flags and each denounced an individual bishop who had mishandled a case.
The ECA initiative seeks to build on the momentum that clergy abuse survivors in Chile have recently obtained over the case of Bishop Juan Barros, accused of witnessing and ignoring abuse. On May 18, all of Chile's 34 bishops offered to resign en masse after attending a crisis meeting with the pope in the Vatican about the cover-up of sexual abuse in the south American nation. Francis has not yet announced which resignations to accept, if any.