PEI

Catholic Church on P.E.I. says Pope's summit on sex abuse 'a good step'

The head of the Catholic Church on P.E.I. says a meeting on sexual abuse by clergy held by the church in Rome over the weekend was "a good step."

'The immensity of dealing with this is complicated' says bishop

'I think we're moving quickly on this — we've come a long way in 30 years,' says Bishop Richard Grecco. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

The head of the Catholic Church on P.E.I. says a meeting on sexual abuse by clergy held by the church in Rome over the weekend was "a good step."

Pope Francis closed out the four-day summit Sunday calling for an "all out battle" against a crime that should be "erased from the face of the Earth."

I think it's a historic moment where the Pope calls for accountability, responsibility, transparency.— Bishop Richard Grecco

"We've begun a process at the global level — here in Canada we've been at it for over 30 years," said Richard Grecco, the bishop of the Diocese of Charlottetown. 

"I think it's a historic moment where the Pope calls for accountability, responsibility, transparency," Grecco said. "I think it's a good step and I think it's the beginning." 

'Everybody's in shock'

Grecco said Catholics have looked to him for answers about the abuse scandals. 

"They want to hear from the church and they want to hear from me — what are we to think about all of this?" he said. "Everybody's in shock."

Pope Francis prays during the opening of a global child protection summit for reflections on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church last weekend. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest document the church produced in Canada was a set of guidelines by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops aimed at improving how allegations of sexual abuse are handled.

The 184-page document Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation was referenced at last weekend's conference, Grecco said, as a "good document that different countries can follow." 

"Everything has got to be out there for the people to know and to act quickly," Grecco said, adding that the church "has screening programs in all of its parishes."

"I think we're moving quickly on this — we've come a long way in 30 years," he said.

'I think it's a good step and I think it's the beginning,' says Grecco of the summit. (Giuseppe Lami/EPA-EFE)

News Monday that another cardinal has been convicted of child abuse in Australia hurts and affects everyone, whether Catholic or not, Grecco said. The Pope's former top adviser Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of sexual offences committed more than two decades ago against two 13-year-old choirboys. 

"I'm sure the Holy Father will take action against him as he did against Cardinal McCarrick," he said. Pope Francis defrocked former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of sexual crimes against minors and adults.

'Immensity of dealing with this'

Some have criticized the Pope for falling short on addressing the sexual abuse crisis and not offering specific solutions out of the summit. 

Grecco defends the Pope's actions, pointing out the Catholic Church is a global institution of more than a billion people.

"The immensity of dealing with this is complicated and I think what the Vatican can do is come up with certain legislation to deal with the hierarchy, such as bishops and cardinals," Grecco said. 

"But the actual abuse has to be dealt with at the local level, as we are doing in our diocese." 

Grecco said as he gets feedback from parishioners and priests, "then we'll bring this into discussion in all our parishes as well."

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With files form Angela Walker

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