Cardinal condemns ‘covert criminal behavior for so long’ in the Church

Influential Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet lamented Thursday that “criminal behavior has been covered up for so long to protect the institution,” alluding to the crisis the Catholic Church is going through due to sexual abuse committed by priests around the world.

“We are all torn and humbled by these crucial issues that affect us every day as members of the Church,” Cardinal Ouellet acknowledged, during the opening of a three-day symposium on the priesthood being held at the Vatican and inaugurated by Pope Francis.

The cardinal referred to the “drama of sexual abuse committed by clerics” in his address to attending cardinals, priests, laity and religious, as well as the public that could connect to the broadcast.

“Should we rather refrain from talking about the priesthood when the sins and crimes committed by unworthy ministers occupy the front page of the international press (…)?” asked Oullet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, among the organizers of the three days dedicated to a theological reflection on the role of the priest.

“This is a favorable opportunity to express our deepest regret and apologize once again to the victims who have seen their lives destroyed by criminal behavior, which has been covered up for so long and treated lightly to protect the institution and the culprits.” rather than the victims,” ​​added Ouellet.

“This symposium takes note of the cry and the anger of God’s people, so we are here to join our voices with those who cry out for truth and justice,” he said.

For his part, Pope Francis did not mention this issue in his speech, which focused on the “four constitutive pillars of priestly life,” which he called “the four neighborhoods.”

Francis insisted on the “gift” that constitutes “celibacy” for priests, which must be lived as “sanctification” and which “requires healthy relationships.”

“Without friends and without prayer, celibacy can become an unbearable burden and a counter-testimony to the very beauty of the priesthood,” he warned.

Some 500 people participate in the international meeting, the most important event organized in the Vatican since the health crisis, held at a delicate moment for the figure of the priest, clouded by complaints in many countries of sexual abuse of minors.

On Tuesday, victims’ associations in Italy launched an unprecedented campaign to demand an independent investigation like those recently carried out in Germany and France, which revealed the magnitude of the phenomenon.

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