Bob Hoatson, 67, a former Christian Brother and priest who left the Archdiocese of Newark in 2011, said total transparency was paramount.
“How many cases are they working on in Rome to defrock priests, how many bishops have they received complaints about who are either pedophiles or covering up abuse?” he asked. “Release all the files and documents they have on this.”
The culture regarding secrecy, and who controls the narrative, has also changed more swiftly in the United States than in the Catholic Church hierarchy across the world. The #MeToo movement has made it increasingly impossible for American religious institutions and their leaders to conceal misconduct, or for women to be excluded from conversations about sexual misconduct.
Many everyday Catholics, tired of waiting on their leaders to act, want to play a larger role in finding a solution to the crisis.
A group of seven women from across the United States flew to Rome to be present outside the conference, to stress the urgent need for a solution, and to remind bishops that they should listen to more women in their deliberations.
“The Catholic Church is the people, it is not the hierarchy,” said Maria Bergh, 30, from Chicago. “There’s been a mind-set that Catholics are children looking to fathers. But we are all adults.”
On Friday morning, the women stood at the edge of St. Peter’s Square in bright yellow shirts that said, “Speaking Truth to Power.” Earlier, Roman police had demanded that they disperse for protesting without an official permit, even though they carried no signs.
“The pews of the Catholic Church are emptying rapidly,” said Mary Beth Appel, from Philadelphia. “They will be more empty if there is no change.”