Indian nun calls for an end to the wall of silence around child abuse
Sister Arina Gonsalves is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. In her view, there is “a connection between sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience.” In Ireland, Pope Francis gave an example of what must be done.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Sister Arina Gonsalves is a member of the congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM). She spoke to AsiaNews about the sex abuse scandal involving members of the clergy in Ireland, which Pope Francis referred to during his recent visit to Dublin for the World Meeting of Families and also in today's general audience.
For her, in India "we need to change the culture of silence in relation to sexual abuse of the minors and vulnerable adults”. The pontiff, she notes, "clearly expressed sorrow and accepted responsibility for the abuses that had happened in the past years”.
Pope Francis appointed the Indian nun as a new member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has a long history of personal commitment in the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai) to the protection of children.
The “Holy Father’s repeated apology in Ireland shows that he is sincerely concerned about the victims of child abuse in the past. This also shows his great humility and he takes personal responsibility for what had happened in the Church in the past.”
Francis, she adds, has clearly expressed “a connection between sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience. The response of asking for pardon and seeking reparation will help but we need to take preventive steps in the future. ".
According to Sister Arina, a "step forward would be asking for a radical change of culture where the safety of the children will be top priority ". At the same time, she admits that “The clergy alone will not be able to bring about such radical change. But we have to ask for and receive help from the whole community. We need to create a culture of accountability so that justice will be administered.”
In her view, the way forward entails three steps: “Encourage a culture that prevents sexual abuse as well as the abuse of power that allows to cover up; provide fitting institutions that allow the victims of sexual abuse and those who cover up to report, to be heard and for justice to be administered; see to it that the accused get just and transparent trial.”
To this end, “we need to study the above-mentioned suggestions with the help of expertise, ask their advice, propose changes and implement them.”