Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Unspeakable Crimes"

Today the Holy Father spoke at Westminster Cathedral about the crime of child abuse in the Catholic Church.
Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.
Later privately he met a small number of clerical abuse survivors. I was pleased that he also met diocesan officials who are responsible for safeguarding children other vulnerable people, as I think this was a first I think it is worth highlighting this meeting. This is what he said:
Dear Friends,

I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you, who represent the many professionals and volunteers responsible for child protection in church environments. The Church has a long tradition of caring for children from their earliest years through to adulthood, following the affectionate example of Christ, who blessed the children brought to him, and who taught his disciples that to such as these the Kingdom of Heaven belongs (cf. Mk 10:13-16).

Your work, carried out within the framework of the recommendations made in the first instance by the Nolan Report and subsequently by the Cumberlege Commission, has made a vital contribution to the promotion of safe environments for young people. It helps to ensure that the preventative measures put in place are effective, that they are maintained with vigilance, and that any allegations of abuse are dealt with swiftly and justly. On behalf of the many children you serve and their parents, let me thank you for the good work that you have done and continue to do in this field.

It is deplorable that, in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious. We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem. While there are never grounds for complacency, credit should be given where it is due: the efforts of the Church in this country and elsewhere, especially in the last ten years, to guarantee the safety of children and young people and to show them every respect as they grow to maturity, should be acknowledged. I pray that your generous service will help to reinforce an atmosphere of trust and renewed commitment to the welfare of children, who are such a precious gift from God.

May God prosper your work, and may he pour out his blessings upon all of you.
Yesterday I spoke briefly to a woman who claimed she too was a survivor, justifiable she said, "It is fine to apologise again and again, it is fine to set in place measures to reduce the risks", she thought that we concerned more by risks to the Church, she then said, "but what about those who have been hurt, those whose lives have been torn apart by all this?"
I know that the Church pays for councelling for survivors of clerical abuse, but I just can't help thinking that the Church has a further responsibility, not just to the victims of the clergy or Catholic teachers but to all who are abused, somehow we need to use our resources for all those suffering because of those "unspeakable crimes". As One in Four says, one in four people in the UK is likely to be a victim of abuse!


John said...

Fr Ray, there is clearly an impression created by the Pope's statements on the child abuse scandal that not enough emphasis is being placed on supporting victims, resolving outstanding cases and sharing information with secular authorities. On News 24 last night an interviewee expressed the view that more information could be shared. I suspect this is where the woman you encountered is coming from. I think there is still more to do before the Church has put its own house in order. And because of this I can understand why, for some - myself included, the flag waving celebrations jar a little. I'm not sure exactly how things could have have been organised differently so that the Pope's visit could have been conducted with more obvious humility. However as my wife pointed out yesterday, if Jesus were here, he'd probably be standing with the sex abuse victims.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

The success of the Holy Father's UK visit makes me wonder whether he should grasp the nettle and head for Ireland. The rocket-motors of Irish Catholicism need to be reignited and Joseph Ratzinger's the only man who's up to the job. Or is Ireland now a bridge too far?

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