Warning: This article and accompanying video contain details about child abuse that may disturb some readers.
A heartfelt haka briefly took centre stage during protests on the final day of the Pope’s summit on child sex abuse.
Hundreds of Catholic Church leaders participated in the summit – but abuse survivors say they’ve been excluded and claim nothing’s changed.
Published in Newshub
New Zealander Murray Heasley was there, issuing a challenge to The Vatican. Despite the Pope’s three-day conference coming to a close, the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse crisis is no closer to being solved.
“At the moment it’s looking pretty grim in terms of anything positive coming out of it, so the haka’s challenging them to do something about it,” he told Newshub.
The haka kicked off a protest rally, where survivors of abuse from all over the world united to tell their stories.
“I was raped by a priest, he impregnated me, and paid for the abortion. That should not be allowed for a child,” says Denise Buchanan, co-founder of activist group Ending Clergy Abuse.
“I was gang-raped at the age of 10. I lost a lot of blood and had passed out before they had finished. What they did was singed my body with cigarettes,” said Canadian survivor Evelyn Korkmaz.
Kiwi survivor Darryl Smith presented a pounamu to the rally’s organisers, then they all marched through Rome to deliver their message to The Vatican.
The church has designated this survivor’s week, but despite that, there’s no one from the church present at the rally.
Whistleblower Phil Saviano attended too – his role in the scandal made famous by the film Spotlight.
“It’s a little crazy that it’s 2019, and I’m at the Vatican for the third time and still waiting for change,” he says.
Inside the Vatican, that film took centre stage.
“I watched the film Spotlight. How could a clerical church have kept silent covering these atrocities?” asked Sister Veronica Openibo, a nun from Nigeria.
“The rights of victims were essentially trampled underfoot and left to the whims of individuals,” said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
The conference closes later on Sunday (NZ time) – and while there’s some hope for a proper plan to eradicate paedophiles from the Church, there’s scepticism too.
“Everyone’s hoping this conference will result in something. I don’t know if it will. If it doesn’t, there’s gonna be consequences,” Mr Saviano says.
“We are not going away. This is a lifelong journey for all of us,” Ms Korkmaz says.
It’s a journey they should never have had to travel in the first place.
By Llyod Burr
Published in Newshub
24 Feburary March 2019