Praying for success.
That was Pope Francis’ message to the faithful on Sunday about an upcoming clergy abuse conference.
Francis calls the issue an “urgent challenge of our time.”
Nearly 200 church leaders from around the world will head to Rome later this week. Many hope it’s a turning point when it comes to how the church deals with clergy sex abuse.
“This is a worldwide crisis of the credibility of the church,” said Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College.
Now the Roman Catholic Church is taking historic action, with scandals erupting around the world.
In Connecticut, the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Diocese of Norwich recently released the names of dozens of priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.
“If you don’t have moral credibility and you’re a church, you’re a religious institution, what do you have?” said Silk.
Silk is optimistic about what might come out of the abuse summit which is set to get underway on Thursday.
On the agenda: making sure bishops know how to protect their parishioners and what will happen if they don’t.
“The problem that the Vatican has had, that the church has had, is they haven’t really had any procedures for formally dealing with these kinds of things,” said Silk.
Among those watching what happens: members of a group called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, otherwise known as SNAP.
“We’re hoping that the Pope will take some very decisive action,” said Gail Howard, SNAP Connecticut chapter co-leader.
Howard says the organization has several demands.
“We would like all bishops who participated in enabling child abuse by moving offenders around to be fired,” said Howard.
SNAP also hopes church leaders agree to turn over relevant files to civil authorities and not block efforts to allow civil suits regardless of when they’re filed.
Experts say one of the difficulties will be coming up with rules that work around the world, with different cultures and laws.