Abuse survivors move forward with plans at Vatican Oct. 31

The organizers of a campaign to bring survivors of clergy sexual abuse around the world to the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square Oct. 31 say the event will open what they are calling a “Year of the Survivor.”

Abuse survivors Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron of greater Boston told Catholic News Service that the year is meant to focus on survivors and their spiritual, physical and psychological needs.

“It’s never been done before. There’s never been a time when survivors have come together,” Bergeron said.

To help spread the word, McDaid and Bergeron have launched a website, www.SurvivorsVoice.org.

The site offers information about the planned Vatican gathering, statistics on the impact of abuse on survivors and opportunities to support survivors.

The men are hoping enough survivors and supporters make the trip to Rome to ring St. Peter’s Square for a candlelight vigil at nightfall.

They also have settled on a simple message to spread: “Enough.”

“I think the one universal term everyone around the world can agree to is ‘enough,’” Bergeron told CNS. “It’s time we got together and said, ‘This is enough.’”

Since first announcing the gathering in April, McDaid has been working with survivors globally. He said he recently returned from Ireland to gain support from abuse survivor organizations. He said German abuse survivors have been in touch.

Survivors also plan to leave a basket of letters at the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica seeking the support of church officials, McDaid said.

He compared the planned offering to the action of Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk who nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of All Saints’ Church  (Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Germany, Oct. 31, 1517, marking the start of the Reformation. The monk’s document criticized elements of Catholic belief and practice, particularly the selling of indulgences.

Bergeron hopes the effort will focus worldwide attention on all abuse survivors, not those who were victims of Catholic clergy.

“It’s not just a Catholic issue,” he said. “But we really need to change the way the world views the issue.”

Swiss Guards make pilgrimage to Bavaria

VATICAN CITY — The Swiss Guards spent their summer vacation in Bavaria, making a pilgrimage to places associated with the early life of Pope Benedict XVI.

Msgr. Alain de Raemy, the corps’ chaplain, told the Vatican newspaper that after a successful group pilgrimage in 2006 “in the footsteps of St. Martin of Tours,” their patron, the Swiss Guards decided to do a pilgrimage together every few years.

For the 2010 trek, some suggested the Holy Land, others mentioned the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland, but Bavaria won “for various reasons, especially to help the guards understand more closely the personality of the pontiff through direct contact with his birthplace, his land, his people,” the chaplain said.

Obviously, all the guards did not go at the same time; even though the pope is on vacation, a group of guards are on duty at all times both at the papal summer villa and at the Vatican.

The chaplain said the pilgrimage was conducted three times this summer with each tour involving 30 to 40 guards.

Marktl am Inn, the Bavarian village where Pope Benedict XVI was born. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope’s second book out for Lent

Pope Benedict looks at a copy of the first volume of his work, "Jesus of Nazareth." The first volume came out in 2007.

VATICAN CITY — We’ve known for a while that the second volume of Pope Benedict XVI’s work, “Jesus of Nazareth,” would be out by the spring of next year.

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House, has finally set the target date for the book’s worldwide release: the first Sunday of Lent, March 13, 2011.

In an interview with Vatican Radio yesterday, Father Costa said that by Jan. 15, they plan on delivering translated texts to publishers in different countries so those publishers can prepare their own national editions.

Writing in his native language, German, the pope finished writing the second volume on the life of Jesus in May and the text went to a team of Vatican translators at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The Vatican wants the book to be released simultaneously in major languages. And Lent is a perfect time to launch Volume 2, which treats Christ’s passion and resurrection.