Papal trip challenges Catholics on abuse


The pope's visit was watched closely by Catholics in the Bay Area - some of whom were victims of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Parishioners at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco were very happy with Pope Benedict's visit. They say he reassured them that the church was still relevant in their lives.

"I think he focused everything on the principles of what is right rather than don't do this, don't do that or the other that's a big help for everyone," said St. Mary's parishioner Kay Kelley.

What impressed many parishioners was, that the pope met with victims of sexual abuse by priests and comforted them.

"I'm not sure what else people expect him to do, you know. He apologized and made it a priority issue with him," said St. Mary's parishioner Bob Castle.

"I think that had to be said I think it's very important for the Catholic Church and the world," said St. Mary's parishioner Liam Allen.

"The sexual abuse that has caused so much suffering, I encourage you to cooperate with the bishops who continue to work so effectively to resolve this issue," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict did address the issue of pedophile in the church when he spoke at various functions. But victims of sexual abuse by priests say that just admitting the problem exists and apologizing might not be enough.

Wayne Presley with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests or SNAP, says he was abused from the ages of 11 to 16.

"What we need to do is find out what's going to happen afterward on the most important things," said Wayne Presley from the National Survivor's Network of those Abused by the Priests.

Presley doesn't believe that many of the American clergy will make the changes necessary to make sure the abuse stops.

"I don't think he is going to put himself in a position to undermine his staff by getting rid of any of them and that's what really needs to be done," said Presley.

Carol Mateus says she was raped by a priest when she was 20 years old.

"I'm hoping and praying that they listen to him and they stop treating us with arrogant disdain and indifference," said Carol Mateus from the National Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests.

Other Catholics think that Pope Benedict's approach to the problem of abuse may bring back some of the Catholics who left the faith.

"In Ireland where I'm from we had a particular problem as well and it was covered up and it was very wrong and I think the faith suffered as a result," said

SNAP members say they hope more Catholics will be moved by the pope's remarks and invite victims to give talks at their parishes.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.