Sex Abuse Victims Hope New Pope Will Push Reform

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As Pope Francis takes over at the Vatican, many wonder if he'll push for reform and try to resolve the sexual abuse scandal that has marred the Church in recent years.

The continuing sexual abuse scandals have, in many eyes, undermined the moral authority of the Church and driven parishioners away. A 2009 Pew study found that 27 percent of those who left the Church said the sex abuse scandals influenced their decision.

One victim, Tim Lennon, said he was abused by a priest when he was 13, but he's hopeful the new pope can bring healing and resolution for him and others.

"They picked a person coming from the Third World who has some reputation of dealing with the issue, and he may sweep house and do something concrete," Lennon said. "And we can hope that he takes the latter action, a strong action, so that children are protected."

Abuse victim Udo Strutynski is also optimistic.

"I felt pretty good about him," Strutynski said. "I thought this is much better than I dreamt of."

Strutynski believes the fact the new pope chose the name of a humble figure, St. Francis, is a good sign. 

"I think the man wants to send a message with that name and, in a very gentle way, he's saying no more business as usual," he said.

Kim Daniels, director of Catholic Voices USA, said she hopes Pope Francis intends to deal with the hard issues and rebuild the Church.

"But what I know about him is that he is really a voice for the voiceless and vulnerable -- that's the message of our Church," Daniels said.

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at