Hear abuse victims' messages for the Pope

Pope Francis is failing the thousands of victims of abusive priests in the US and around the world, survivors told CNN's Erica Hill in emotional interviews.

Posted: Aug 24, 2018 8:50 PM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 8:54 PM

Pope Francis is failing the thousands of victims of abusive priests in the US and around the world, survivors told CNN in emotional interviews.

A rare letter of apology and contrition from Francis, and his promised meeting with Irish victims of priestly abuse this weekend has done nothing to ease the ongoing pain of the five people we met in Pennsylvania, where a grand jury concluded earlier this month that hundreds of priests raped, molested and abused boys and girls for decades.

The Pope wrote that the church "abandoned" child victims while the perpetrators were protected. He called for fellow Catholics to fast and pray, but offered no new directions to stop any current or future abuse.

Those were hollow words for these four people abused by priests and a father who lost his son to drugs after his molestation.

This is what they want Francis to know:

Sharon Tell, says she was abused by a priest for 20 years beginning when she was 12; he would later officiate at her wedding and baptize her three children

"You need to clean up your act. You need to get your church in order. You need to take all of those priests that have been abusing children and put them in jail so they cannot abuse children any longer.

"You know, his letter was really nicely written. I give him credit for that, but it was not sincere. He was not proactive. And the only reason that he did it was because of the pressure. It was pressure on him to say something."

John Delaney, says a priest began abusing him when he was an 11-year-old altar boy, later raping him regularly, including on the altar. When he acted out, his family asked the same priest to counsel him

"Prayer, penance, fasting, they're all words. I need action. You know, you want to step up and take control of your church? Demand that these bishops and these cardinals stop protecting predators, stop the lobbying against legislation that would help victims past, present, and future.

"Pretend it was your father, that got abused. What would you do to protect your dad, Pope Francis? Would you pray for him? That would be it? Would you fast? Would that be it? That's not enough for us. He needs to take control of the church."

Jim VanSickle, stayed silent for 37 years after he says he was abused by a priest he called his spiritual mentor from the age of 16 to 18

"I think the Pope needs to know that the church speaks on exactly what you're supposed to do -- to repent and be prepared for the next life.

"I would just ask him to practice what they preach. Come to Pennsylvania and take these people out of ministry. Make an example out of them."

Juliann Bortz, says she was molested by her religion teacher when she was a high school freshman. When she complained to the church decades later, they investigated her

"Stop the prayer and penance and skipping meals and fasting or whatever and start paying attention to the victims. Not the handpicked victims that he has been -- and the other popes have all paid attention to. They're not listening to us, he is not listening to us.

"So if Pope Francis wanted to do something, maybe that would be a good place to start, but I really don't have much to say to him.

"I don't have the same feelings about a pope that I did before '02 (the revelation of the priest molestation scandal in Boston in 2002.)"

Arthur Baselice, says his son was abused by two clergyman who were not charged because the statute of limitations had expired. His son died at 28 from a drug overdose

"If I had an opportunity to meet with the Pope, I would want to hear his confession.

"I would tell the Pope, make Jesus proud of you. Come to Pennsylvania and demand that the (statute of limitations) be removed ... and stop protecting the enablers and abusers.

"Those actions of prayer, penance, and fasting, he does have that to ease his conscience, but that does nothing for the victims."

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