Clergy abuse left off agenda as pope opens Vatican youth meeting

A month-long meeting of Catholic bishops from around the world gets underway Wednesday at the Vatican. Pope Francis opened the meeting Wednesday morning, which is designed to attract the young back to the church. Even before it began, the meeting faced criticism from some church leaders because clerical sex abuse is not officially on the docket — though it certainly looms large over the gathering. 

Pope Francis told bishops Wednesday morning, youth should have a future free of the mistakes and sins of the past. The synod, or meeting, brings together nearly 300 church leaders from almost 125 countries. The Vatican has recognized young people’s “lack of harmony” with the church. So these — mostly old — people have surveyed Catholic youth and will discuss topics that sound like a teenagers’ Google history: video games, migration, LGBT issues, war, friendship, porn and corruption. 

Survivors of sex abuse are taking advantage of this unusual concentration of bishops to speak up.  Four hearing-impaired survivors of clerical sexual abuse pointed out the priests who’d abused them at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Verona, Italy. They plan to protest at the Vatican Wednesday.

“I was naked and confused,” Gianni Bisoli told CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. His abuse started at age nine.

Giuseppe Consiglio said he was abused in the confessional. When allegations surfaced, some of the predator priests from Italy were transferred to another school for the hearing impaired in Argentina – where they abused more children.

“I would scream and cry because of the pain,” Alessandro Vantini told Doane. He said no one could hear him because everyone was deaf.

Those sex abuse want the church to acknowledge the crimes and compensate victims but they say dealing with the Vatican has been like talking to a wall.

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