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Posted: 5:27 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2013
By Peter Daut
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
It's likely no one was watching the announcement of the new pope with as much scrutiny as some of the victims of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.
“I guess it's because of a hope for real change,” said David Fortwengler, who runs the Charlotte chapter of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests.
He said he was 11 years old when he was abused by Father Robert Petrella in Maryland.
Petrella was eventually convicted of molesting three boys and served nine months in prison.
Fortwengler said the church knew about the abuse but covered it up.
“The church officials had known for years he had already admitted to abusing other children, and they put him in our parish in charge of the altar boys,” Fortwengler said.
Fortwengler said what strikes him the most about the Archbishop of Argentina is his humility, but he remains pessimistic that Pope Francis will take action on behalf of abuse victims.
“Not just words, but an acknowledgment of the gross negligence of what church officials have done,” Fortwengler said.
Despite the new leadership, Fortwengler said the church has a long way to go before it can repair the damage that has affected countless lives.
“Only by disciplining these employees who are complicit in the mismanagement of these crimes, that's what would help give us confidence it's no longer going to be tolerated in church,” he said.
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