Pope: Recognizing and condemning sexual abuse, no prescription
Letter "to the Holy People of God" on the conclusions of the PA Grand Jury report. "To acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. ". Overcome all forms of clericalism. It, "favored by both priests themselves and lay people, generates a division into the ecclesial body that foments and helps to perpetuate many of the evils we are denouncing today".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Recognizing and condemning with pain and shame the atrocities committed by consecrated persons", "working more in the present on a journey of renewed conversion", practicing penance and fasting that "can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary".
To "engage in truth and charity with all men of good will and with society in general to fight against any kind of sexual abuse, power and conscience".
These are some of the thoughts expressed a the Letter of Pope Francis to the Holy People of God, outlining his conclusions of the report on sexual abuse committed in Pennsylvania by the clergy, made public on August 14th.
The document begins with the words of the Letter to the Corinthians "If one member suffers, all the members suffer together" (1 Cor 12:26). " These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.".
Francis then notes that "even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands".
" With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them".
The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain". " Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption".
Francis then says he is " conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future. Together with these efforts, each baptized person must feel involved in the ecclesial and social transformation we need so much. Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need".