Italian police blocked victims of Catholic priest sexual abuse from protesting near the Vatican on Sunday, the AP is reporting. The demonstration was originally planned for inside the Vatican, but the victims were denied permission from the Holy See. The protesters left letters to the Pope at the edge of St. Peter's Square after being stopped by Italian paramilitary police, according to CNN.
This is the first protest by victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to be held so close to the Vatican. The Telegraph is reporting that Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi met the crowd this morning, only to retreat when protesters yelled "Shame on you!" at the priest. Bernie McDaid, a victim of abuse and the co-founder of the group Survivor's Voice, told that paper:
Somewhere tonight in Africa a missionary is having his way with a child, taking his body for pleasure and robbing his soul, and nothing will be done to stop the perpetrator.
Only Gary Bergeron, McDaid's co-founder, and one other protester were allowed to leave letters at the Pope's doorstep. The crowd included about 50 people from the infamous school for the deaf in Verona, where dozens of boys were allegedly molested.
The protesters wore t-shirts that read "Enough." The group Survivor's Voice sponsored the event, calling it "Reformation Day." The Vatican said that denying the dozens of protesters, who came from three continents, permission to gather on Vatican property was standard practice, reports CNN.
Watch video from the protest from the Voice of America: