Next October 31 (a Sunday, of course) should be a rather interesting day indeed in Vatican City. According to articles in both Gazet van Antwerpen and De Tijd (the latter is actually Flanders’ main business/financial paper, but nevermind) two American victims of past sexual abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests will be organizing a march then on St. Peter’s Square.
They don’t intend to be alone there. Rather, the two (Bernie McDaid and Olan Home, who also challenged Pope Benedict XVI on priest sexual abuse during the latter’s visit to the US in 2008) have been busy recruiting other Catholic lay organizations to join them. Between those worshippers, other sexual-abuse victims, and reform-minded individuals showing up (including, hopefully, current priests), they expect to be leading a 50,000-strong demonstration seeking to show “that their Church is in terrible trouble.” McDaid and Home will also be pushing their own four-point reform plan:
- Establish an independent commission to supervise how the Vatican deals with priest sexual abuse;
- Screen seminarians, priests, and bishops effectively against this sort of behavior;
- Involve lay influence in the selection of bishops;
- Include mandatory instruction about sexual abuse at every seminary’s program of study.
You might be asking: “I know that these guys need some time to get the word out, but why are they waiting all the way until next October 31?” No, it has nothing to do with Halloween; October 31 is also historically famous as the day when, back in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, and so effectively kicked off the Protestant Reformation.