Sex Abuse Victims Ask Pope To Act Before Leaving
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MIAMI (CBS4) – In Rome Wednesday, Pope Benedict took a final lap around St. Peter’s Square and delivered a goodbye address to hundreds of thousands of cheering, adoring faithful.
In Miami, bells were tolling at the Archdiocese as advocates for alleged victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests called on the outgoing Pope to fully reveal the scope of the Church’s sex scandals.
“This case implicates the Vatican,” said attorney Jeffrey Herman, referring to “John Doe #97,” now 52-years-old, who has filed suit accusing a disgraced, defrocked priest of sexually abusing him as a child at Our Lady of Divine Providence church in Miami-Dade.
Advocates for children of sex abuse by men of the cloth called for the departing Pope to fully confess the sins of the Catholic fathers.
“The Vatican is still protecting priests, is still not transparent, and is still not coming clean,” said Herman.
Herman and other victims’ advocates pointed to former priest Ernesto Garcia Rubio and his alleged abuse of kids during the 70’s and 80’s.
Referencing documents that have been presented in other cases of alleged abuse, victims’ advocates said Archbishop Coleman Carroll of Miami received orders in 1968 to “protect” Rubio.
In a letter to Carroll, a Vatican representative to the United States wrote that Rubio “was forced to leave Cuba because of serious difficulties of a moral nature (homosexuality).”
The letter goes on, directing the Archbishop to take “whatever steps are necessary to protect this priest.”
Attorneys for alleged victims have argued, and former priests have testified, that “homosexual” was code for “pedophile” in church correspondence.
According to the lawsuit filed by John Doe #97, and suits filed by others, the Archdiocese sent Father Rubio to the church in Sweetwater where he proceeded to have ungodly ways with multiple children.
Accusers say Rubio was joined at times by a partner in perversion, Father Neil Doherty, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month in a Broward County courtroom after being convicted of sex abuse.
John Doe #97, according to Herman, had “his hands tied behind his back” as the two clerics would violate him in a variety of ways.
Critics say not one member of the Archdiocese or the Vatican has ever been held to account for the transgressions of priests and the church’s efforts at cover-up.
David Pittman, with the group Survivors’ Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAPNETWORK.ORG), said, “The Pope still has a chance to make a difference. He can get it done.”
“We hope the Pope will use his last moments to show true leadership and discipline at least one church official and set the proper example,” Pittman said.
Pople Benedict has apologized for abuses committed by priests, but only weeks ago appointed an American Bishop to investigate how the church handled the cases and to what extent there were coordinated efforts to keep the scandals secret.
In Miami late Wednesday afternoon, Mary Ross Agosta, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese released a statement saying, “As always, the Catholic Church’s concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice. In addition, over these past 10 years, the Church, and the archdiocese in particular, have been forthcoming and taken steps to keep our children safe through extensive training and background screenings of all its personnel. “
The statement went on to say, “The Archdiocese of Miami policy on sexual abuse is very clear: a report of these allegations is made to the State Attorney’s office; our internal Archdiocesan Review Board reviews the allegation; and pastoral care and counseling are offered to the alleged victim.”
Critics counter that the church did not have a “come to Jesus” moment until long after many cases of abuse and cover-up had been exposed, and that the church has not yet fully disclosed the depth of its prior transgressions.