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Summit on clergy abuse ends; now focus turns to change

Summit ended Sunday at Vatican

VATICAN CITY – The papal summit on clergy abuse has come to a close in Rome. 

Those expecting concrete results worldwide will be disappointed. 

But here at home, Catholics can expect meaningful change, including accountability of bishops who covered up clergy abuse of minors for decades, sometimes guilty of abuse themselves.

On the final day of the summit, Pope Francis delivered an address after celebrating mass. He had strong words for those priests guilty of abusing minors, saying they and future abusers will face the wrath of God.

The pope also talked about preventing abuse and the next generation of priests. 

Three priests from Texas visited while in Rome, Joe White, of Lake Jackson, Sam Bass, of Austin and Ismael Rodriguez, of Dallas. 

Survivors who traveled to The Vatican for answers have been vocal and visible. 

“The summit has always centered on victims and survivors,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“It was there from the get-go in the beginning. It punctured and went through every talk.”

As for meaningful change, the pope offered only hope, relying on his bishops for change worldwide. 

Any major shift in the American Catholic Church would come with DiNardo’s oversight.

“We’re getting very concrete,” he said. “We’re going right back home and taking some of this.”

DiNardo will return to Houston on Monday determined to make bishops accountable for abuse. 

The American Catholic bishops meet again in June, where they will issue a directive aimed at making bishops accountable to nonclergy and lay advisers in each parish.