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Local clergy abuse victim reacts to Pope's speech at Vatican Summit

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-24 21:00:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— A landmark four-day Vatican Summit concluded today in Tome. The Pope addressed the Catholic Church's long history of child sex abuse and cover-up scandals. He concluded the event with a speech, saying that those guilty of child sex abuse are "tools of Satan."

While many thought the Pope's "all-out-battle" to fight sex abuse was refreshing, local survivors hoped to see more.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego immediately praised the Pope's transparency, sending 10News this statement:

The summit hosted by Pope Francis accomplished everything we hoped for and more. The Pope and the bishops assembled in Rome endorsed tough policies to promote accountability for bishops and other church authorities and made it very clear that covering up the abuse of minors was every bit as criminal and sinful as the acts of abuse themselves. They heard first-hand from victims and from Pope Francis himself who called for an ‘all-out battle’ to fight sexual abuse.

“We expect additional guidelines to issued by the Vatican in coming days and specific policies and regulations to be voted on by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in June.”

Kevin Eckery, spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego

But for Paul Livingston, Pope Francis' words did not fix the damage he said he experienced as a victim of clergy abuse.

"It's a day late and a dollar short," Livingston said. "All we wanted was an apology. We didn't get an apology. We got a 'That never happened here'."

Livingston is the Director San Diego County SNAP or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He said his colleagues went to Rome to represent victims. They hoped to get abusive clergy members immediately fired and to have church records be turned over to secular authorities.

"The solution is simple. Super simple. All he [the Pope] has to the say to the Cardinals and the Bishops around the world is this: When abuse comes about in your Diocese, call the local police. Done. End of story," Livingston said.

The Pope also said he wanted to change a church law regarding child pornography. All cases involving people under the age of 18 and not just kids under the age of 14 would be investigated by the Vatican's own Sex Crimes Unit.

But to that, Livingston saw the same problem. "No. The Catholic church has proven that they cannot police themselves," Livingston said.

Because of what happened in the early 1970s, Livingston said he is no longer a believer. While the Pope's Summit may have seemed like a step in the right direction, he said he would remain skeptical of the church he used to love.

"That was just a lot of pronouncements, a lot of paperwork, and maybe 200 years from now, they'll call the cops," Livingston said.