Ottawa

Pope's letter empty words without action, advocates say

A man who was sexually abused by a Gatineau priest and a lawyer who has become an advocate for survivors say the Roman Catholic Church must take concrete action if this week's letter from the Pope is going to be seen as anything by empty words.

Open letter to all Catholics pleads for help ending sexual abuse

Pope Francis's letter is a good start, but means nothing unless the Church takes concrete action, said a survivor of sexual abuse by a Gatineau priest. (Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo via AP)

A man who was sexually abused by a Gatineau priest and a lawyer who has become an advocate for survivors say the Roman Catholic Church must take concrete action if this week's letter from the Pope is going to be seen as anything by empty words.

This week Pope Francis released a letter asking Catholics worldwide for help ending sexual abuse by clergy members and vowing to end coverups.

A survivor of sexual abuse by former Gatineau priest Jacques Faucher in the 1970s whose name is protected under a publication ban told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Tuesday the letter is sufficient as a reaction to recent scandals, but won't spark lasting change.

"It has no healing power whatsoever for me," said the man, who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse. "There has to be more action."

Pope Francis has condemned sex abuse by priests in a letter to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics but are words enough? We talk to a survivor of abuse and a lawyer. 10:23

He said the Church's requirement that priests refrain from sex is a major factor in the continuing pattern of abuse. Lawyer Rob Talach agreed.

"Celibacy is at the core of this for a number of reasons … [bishops] have never, past the age of 17, had a mature, adult, sexual intimate relationship with anyone. The psychosexual maturity of the leadership of the Church is that of a teenage boy," said Talach, an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual abuse.

"I'm quite tone deaf to the Vatican's public relations efforts. The closest thing to action in there is prayer and fasting," 

Lawyer Rob Talach is an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. (CBC)

Talach said giving women a greater role in the Church would almost certainly stem the abuse. He believes the Church must take drastic measures if it's going to survive.

"[The Church] will sink like the Titanic if they don't turn course."

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning