Pope Francis will hold an unscheduled meeting with victims of paedophile priests on Wednesday, according to an Italian activist, a day before the start of a highly anticipated Vatican summit against child abuse.
“I got a message that we will see him tomorrow,’’ Francesco Zanardi of Rete l’Abuso, an Italian organisation said that it is part of Ending Clergy Abuse, a global campaign group, told dpa by phone on Tuesday.
The meeting was not confirmed by the Vatican.
On Tuesday, Vatican officials said abuse survivors like Zanardi were going to be granted an audience with the organising committee of the anti-abuse summit which includes two cardinals, but not with the pope himself.
“I would think that the pope would want to meet us,’’ said Phil Saviano, another abuse victim and campaigner who helped uncover the “Spotlight’’ cover-up scandal in Boston, at a Rome press conference.
The Vatican has said that a pope meeting is not on the agenda, Saviano said, but “if he should suddenly show up, I would take that as a very positive step on his part’’.
He added: “I would think that if I was the pope, that I would want to stop by and say hi.’’
Matthias Katsch, a German ECA member, said about 40 representatives of victims’ associations have travelled to Rome to make their voice heard, and criticised the Vatican for proposing to meet with only a few of them.
“It bothers us, and we won’t accept that just certain representatives are invited to the meeting,’’ Katsch told dpa.
The Vatican’s anti-abuse summit runs from Thursday to Sunday.