Nearly 200 Catholic bishops gather in Seattle Wednesday for a three day conference, amidst new allegations of ongoing sexual abuse by priests.
The church leaders from all over the country will discuss potential changes to new rules put in place in 2002 aimed at curbing rampant sexual abuse spanning decades, resulting in thousands of complaints and over $2 billion in legal settlements.
“It’s little more than show. They’ve done virtually nothing to change things,” alleges John Shuster, director of Seattle’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Shuster says the reforms are meaningless, because they don’t carry any real power to remove pedophile priests.
Shuster accuses the church of continuing to cover up ongoing abuses, and his group is calling on the church to open its records and subject guilty priests to criminal prosecution. “This is criminal sexual abuse of children,” he complains. “If this were a plumber, he’d be locked up in a minute.”
But Catholic Church leaders insist guidelines put in place the last decade have drastically curbed abuse cases and no further rules are needed.
The gathering comes just days after three men filed new lawsuits against the Seattle archdiocese, alleging rampant abuse and cover up in the 1960’s and 1970’s.