The Catholic Church is stepping up to protect children.
A conference in Savannah this week is covering a wide range of topics including screening applicants who may be a risk for committing sexual abuse.
Unfortunately – events like this come too late for victims like Chris Templeton. He spoke to News 3 last year about being abused by Father Wayland Brown. Assaulted nearly sixty times back in 1987.
“(I remember) Him raping me in the Rectory. These were the flashbacks I was having, of him raping me in my parent’s home,” said Chris Templeton. “He walked in and told my mother i’ll sit with Chris while you get the girls. and he raped me right on my mom and dad’s couch. I can still see the fibers of the couch pressed up in my face. I can still feel it like it was yesterday. I can still see the yellow and brown carpet in my mom and dad’s house.”
Templeton’s story is shocking and all too familiar to anyone who watches the news these days.
But instead of leaving tv and hollywood to “spotlight” the issue – the Catholic Church is now taking responsibility, and changing the way they talk about and deal with abuse.
“Whats the biggest mistake you think the church has made?”
“Covering up. There’s no question,” said Monsignor Robert Oliver, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
According to Monsignor Robert Olive, appointed to the Pontificatal Commission for the Protection of Minors by Pope Francis himself, Its an admission many have waited years, if not decades to hear.
The Catholic Church saying there is a problem with abuse – and they did cover it up.
“In terms of the overall issue and the protecting of children and making our institution safe places, I think the more openness the better,” said Oliver.
Its a message Monsignor Robert Oliver is delivering at the child and youth protection catholic leadership conference in Savannah.
As he speaks to delegates from 100 different diocese from around the United States, words from the pope himself are on the screens.
Words like transparency, accountability and “the abuse of minors”
“We have committed ourselves. From Pope Francis to every single person in this room to everyone who has responsibility in this church has committed ourselves to protect our children. to protect our vulnerable adults.”
Commitment that includes new ways of thinking – looking at data, getting feedback – changing the culture of abuse in churches – and not keeping it behind closed doors.
“The case need to be done, they need to be done in a way that we put victims first, ” said the Monsignor. “Justice is done, its done in a relatively speedy way. But its done in a way that justice comes. and that those who have harmed minors will not have access again.”
A safer future which Oliver say starts by not repeating the mistakes of the past.
“By looking back we learn a tremendous about what was not done properly, what was not understood properly and that way we get the best people together we can to make sure we don’t do it again what do we need to do now and what do we need to do now to be able to move forward.”
Monsignor Oliver says 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men who work in or for the Catholic Church were abused themselves. Now instead of hiding those type of facts and those people, the church is dedicating resources to help them and others deal with abuse and prevent it from ever happening again.