Locals React To Pope’s Meeting With Sex Assault Victims

SCRANTON — In an historic move, Pope Francis met with six victims of clerical sexual abuse in Vatican City on Monday. He led them in a private mass, condemned sex abuse in the church and offered an apology.

“I beg your forgiveness, also, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves,” he said.

People in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, Catholic or not, said they, too appreciate what the Pope has done.

“For him to apologize, I’m a fan of it. It’s good for the world, good for the Catholics, good for everybody,” said Pat Touhey of Dallas.

The local Catholic diocese has seen scandal.

Last month, suspended priest Rev. William Paulish of the Scranton Diocese was sentenced to eight to 23 months in prison. He admitted to meeting a 15-year-old boy for a sexual encounter.

Earlier this year, Rev. Philip Altavilla of the Scranton Diocese was charged with indecent assault, accused of fondling a teenager 15 years ago. He faces trial.

“It’s an important issue and I don’t think things like that should be swept under the rug, I think you need to get it out there to inform everyone,” said Caitlin Liberatore, a University of Scranton student.

The Pope has also promised a crackdown on church leaders who fail to protect children.

“I think that it’s something that’s really good to acknowledge, that there’s progress being made and the victims are being recognized and everyone has apologized,” said Coleen Joyce, also a University of Scranton student.

“I’m not a religious person, but as far as this Pope, I’m a fan, really. Everything he’s doing from washing the feet of women to addressing gay marriage as a non-confrontational topic. This is just a step in the right direction,” said Touhey.

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