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September 26, 2015

Ex-priest wants Pope Francis to address sex abuse in church

Pope in Philly Abuse
Priest abuse Christina LoBrutto/PhillyVoice

Ex-priest greets Pope Francis with a sign.

As Pope Francis came to Philadelphia to deliver his message of peace and justice Saturday, Robert M. Hoatson stood in the Ben Franklin Parkway with a message of his own. 

Priest abuse
Robert Hoatson, a former priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, said he was hoping to get Pope Francis to address prior sexual abuse by members of the clergy. (Christina LoBrutto/PhillyVoice)

A former priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, he said he was hoping to get the pope to address prior sexual abuse by members of the clergy. He said he appreciates the pope's pontifical commission to prevent new abuse, but said he has to address abuse in the past. Hoatson is the co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, a nonprofit in Livingston, New Jersey, that supports survivors of sexual abuse.

In a speech on Wednesday, the pope called America's cardinals "courageous" in handling sex abuse cases.

"That's the last word we would think of when we think of the bishops, from the victims' point of view," Hoatson said. 

"You can't just look forward; there are so many people who have been abused in the past."