Thursday, April 22, 2010

Statement by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on Child Abuse

Our Bishops summon us the public penance and prayer, in the following statement issued today.
Child abuse in the Catholic Church has been such a focus of public attention recently, that we, the Bishops of England and Wales, wish to address this issue directly and unambiguously.

Catholics are members of a single universal body. These terrible crimes, and the inadequate response by some church leaders, grieve us all.

Our first thoughts are for all who have suffered from the horror of these crimes, which inflict such severe and lasting wounds. They are uppermost in our prayer. The distress we feel at what has happened is nothing in comparison with the suffering of those who have been abused.

The criminal offences committed by some priests and religious are a profound scandal. They bring deep shame to the whole church. But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God. Therefore we focus not on shame but on our sorrow for these sins. They are the personal sins of only a very few. But we are bound together in the Body of Christ and, therefore, their sins touch us all.

We express our heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed. We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses.

Furthermore, we recognise the failings of some Bishops and Religious leaders in handling these matters. These, too, are aspects of this tragedy which we deeply regret and for which we apologise. The procedures now in place in our countries highlight what should have been done straightaway in the past. Full co-operation with statutory bodies is essential.

Now, we believe, is a time for deep prayer of reparation and atonement. We invite Catholics in England and Wales to make the four Fridays in May 2010 special days of prayer. Even when we are lost for words, we can place ourselves in silent prayer. We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication. We pray for all who have suffered abuse; for those who mishandled these matters and added to the suffering of those affected. From this prayer we do not exclude those who have committed these sins of abuse. They have a journey of repentance and atonement to make.

We pray also for Pope Benedict, whose wise and courageous leadership is so important for the Church at this time.

In our dioceses we will continue to make every effort, working with our safeguarding commissions, to identify any further steps we can take, especially concerning the care of those who have suffered abuse, including anyone yet to come forward with their account of their painful and wounded past. We are committed to continuing the work of safeguarding, and are determined to maintain openness and transparency, in close co-operation with the statutory authorities in our countries. We thank the thousands who give generously of their time and effort to the Church’s safeguarding work in our parishes and dioceses.

We commit ourselves afresh to the service of children, young people and the vulnerable in our communities. We have faith and hope in the future. The Catholic Church abounds in people, both laity, religious and clergy, of great dedication, energy and generosity who serve in parishes, schools, youth ventures and the care of elderly people. We also thank them. The Holy Spirit guides us to sorrow and repentance, to a firm determination to better ways, and to a renewal of love and generosity towards all in need.


CRB Approved. said...

Am I being a little hard by thinking the photo of smiling bishops is not suitable to link with a letter of apology for 'These terible crimes'. Is this photo an official release by the bishops to go with their statement or has it been added by you, Father?
I heard the interview today on Radio 5 with Archbishop Nichols. He spoke calmly and courteously but no matter how much he, or the Holy Father, apologises it will never be enough for some people. Apologies and restitution are certainly required but it seems to me that if we continually keep apologising the more the public feeling becomes entrenched that all the abuse is being committed only by Catholic priests and within the Catholic Church. I fear that this feeling is also being shared by many in the Church who see only only biased and bigoted reporting in the news media and do not have access to the internet and blogs where a more balanced picture can be found.

Crux Fidelis said...

I'm heartened by this statement but I'm just waiting for the media jackals' predictable reactions: "Not enough" "Too little too late" etc etc ad nauseam.

The Bones said...

The Bishops Conference never wrote this. It isn't possible, because it mentions sin.

This must have come from the CDF.

georgem said...

Why now, when the headlines were dying down? Why not six weeks ago at the height of the media's relentless pummeling of the Pope?

"These terrible crimes, and the inadequate response by some church leaders, grieve us all."

I'm sorry, but this is dangerously close to holier-than-thou.

Why no mention of the Pope's efforts to combat this evil and the bishops' support of all that he has done in this regard?

The timing of this statement beats me. But the result is that here we are again at the top of the headlines.

And those who have suffered so grievously have had their wounds scraped open once more. To what purpose?

Sadie Vacantist said...

Unusual to see them dressed as bishops. Generally they dress like accountants (turf).

Newminster said...

Nice of them to get round to mentioning Benedict eventually, even if it did look like an afterthought.
Benedict, your Graces! Remember him? The Pope. Supposedly the earthly boss of this outfit. A bit more whole-hearted support for the man might be useful, don't you think?

Simon Platt said...

I suppose the photo must have been taken in Rome at the recent Ad Limina.

That might explain Sadie's point. And, perhaps, Laurence's, too.

Simon Platt said...

I was keen to read the statement. I have been travelling a lot today, and had heard it referred to on Radio 4. The radio journalists gave a very misleading impression of the statement. I had the impression that it was defensive, and it was described as though it was a tactic on the bishops' part. Actually, I was left thinking that it was an apology by Archbishop Nichols, and wondering "but what exactly has the archbishop apologised for?". The statement itself seems quite straightforward and proportionate and I will take the opportunity myself to offer prayers as encouraged by the bishops.

Anonymous said...

The statement was sent to me by our parish priest. I've asked for a Holy Hour every Friday evening in May, but there are mumblings about who is going to "organise" it. We must always have something going on - can't we just have an hour of peace? Oh to be back in Citta del Vaticano!

Anonymous said...

Only one short mention of our beloved Holy Father and near the end, as if an afterthought!
He should have been uppermost in their thoughts, considering the wicked way he has been treated. He's the greatest Pope the Church has had for a long time.


Ma Tucker said...

Good. It's a good start.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Do you all really believe that baloney?

Didn't Vatican Council Smoke of Satan II teach you anything?


Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

I agree with those who wonder if we must keep apologising for sins/crimes committed long past from now to the Parousia, as terrible as they are.
I would have liked the Bishops to have mentioned that the instances cited in the recent media blitz are from the past; that there have been inaccuracies, errors and bias in many of the media reports, and that the impression given that this crime is exclusive to the Catholic Church and endemic among its clergy and religious is wrong.
Strange, the Bishops can be highly critical of Government policies, but fail to question the integrity of the media even when sloppy journalism defames blatantly and without evidence the Pope himself.

Crux Fidelis said...

A propos of my earlier remark: On BBC news last there was a representative of a support organisation for those abused as children who said "Apologies aren't enough. What is required is action" Surely someone in his position should know about the Church's excellent child protection policy? Or perhaps he does and any acknowledgement of it wouldn't suit his agenda.

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