Report: Pope to meet abuse victims at Vatican next week

Pope Francis is to meet with survivors of clergy sexual abuse for the first time as pontiff next week, according to a report Thursday by the independent Irish newspaper The Irish Catholic.

Survivors of abuse, the newspaper reports, will be meeting Francis at the Vatican guesthouse where the pontiff lives. Among those met by Francis will reportedly be survivors from Ireland, Britain, the U.S., and Poland.

The encounter would follow remarks made by Francis during a press conference after the pontiff's trip to the Holy Land in May, when he said he would be hosting such a meeting. Timing of the event would also place it during the same week as the July 1-4 meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the eight-cardinal group that is advising the pontiff on reforming the governance of the church.

Among members of that group is Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who is serving on a new papal commission on clergy sexual abuse and had been asked by Francis to set up a meeting with survivors.

The meeting between with Francis will be private and will allow the survivors to recount their suffering to the pontiff first-hand, the Irish Catholic reports. Afterwards, individual survivors will reportedly be able to decide whether to detail the experience for press.

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The new papal commission on clergy sexual abuse met at the Vatican for the first time in May. While the Vatican has not announced their next meeting together, the May encounter came following a meeting of the Council of Cardinals group.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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