Victims of priest sex abuse protest near Vatican

Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:54pm GMT

By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Victims of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests demonstrated near the Vatican on Sunday night, holding up placards demanding that the church punish those responsible for cover ups and do more to protect children.

Some 75 victims and their supporters from the United States and several European countries had wanted to march to the Vatican with candles but were blocked by police because they did not have a permit.

"This is about responsibility," Gary Bergeron, one of the organisers of a group called Survivors Voice told the rally at Castel Sant' Angelo in the heart of Rome within sight of Saint Peter's Basilica some 500 metres away.

After negotiations with police, Bergeron and a woman were allowed to walk to the Vatican holding candles and enter St Peter's Square while the others were forced to stay behind.

The two left some 75 letters addressed to Pope Benedict from abuse victims on a Vatican entrance. Police, who followed closely, made copies of their passports and released them.

"There is no person in any position, in any part of the world whose status or position should be above the protection of our children or above the law," Bergeron told the rally.

Bergeron also left about a dozen small stones in the square representing abuse victims from various countries.

"When men of the cloth take the bodies of children for their pleasure, it is time for change," Bergeron told the gathering.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.