Pope Francis called for the fight against abuses to be “priority” in Latin American churches and considered sexual attacks by clergy members to be an “indelible wound in the body of Christ.”
“The work of establishing clear procedures for the protection of vulnerable people in the Church must become a priority in each local church,” said the pontiff in a message sent for the opening of the II Latin American Prevention Congress that is taking place in Paraguay and is entitled “Assist, Inform and Communicate: keys to effective management in cases of sexual abuse”.
In his message, a day after serving a decade as Pope, Francis maintained that “both rape and betrayal, sexual abuse by the clergy and its cover-up by bishops and religious superiors have left an indelible wound on the body of Christ, the Church, because of the harm caused to so many people”.
For the pontiff, who last year gave constitutional status in the Holy See to the commission that combats and prevents pedophilia, “sexual abuse by any person in the Church, whenever it has occurred, is a clear and present danger for the welfare of God’s people and its mismanagement will continue to degrade the Gospel of the Lord in the eyes of all.”
“Anyone who diminishes the impact of this story and minimizes the current danger dishonors those who have suffered so much and misleads those who claim to serve,” he said.
In his message, the Pope warned Latin American religious not to allow “the lack of resources” to serve as an impediment to promoting adequate prevention measures.
“The cruel inequalities that affect our societies must not be allowed to affect our Church!”he stressed.
“Anyone who diminishes the impact of this story and minimizes the current danger dishonors those who have suffered so much and misleads those who claim to serve.”Pope Francisco
The Supreme Pontiff recalled that “Church leaders have done a lot to confront this evil and prevent it from happening again” and urged them to organize “more events of this type” because they serve to “listen, reflect and help”.
“We must be able to see the results that minors are safer in our Church,” he acknowledged.
Francis also explained that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, established in 2014, was in charge of “supervising and verifying the suitability of solid policies and practices throughout the Church,” as well as preparing a report, the news agency reported. AFP news.
In dialogue with Télam, Inés Franck, a member of the Latin American Interdisciplinary Research and Training Center for the Protection of Minors (Ceprome), highlighted from Asunción that the objective of the meeting is to “provide tools for the different countries of the world so that they can attend to complaints of abuse and respond to victims from institutional bodies. We are paying attention to those who denounce the abuses”.
Another of the goals -I continue- is “provide adequate information, have it available and communicate about different situations. Show a church that opens up and does not have any prejudice” regarding cases of abuse.
He stressed that progress has been made in recent years and that the Church “is becoming increasingly aware of the problem. I saw significant progress, although there is a long way to go. The issues are being addressed.”
In relation to the obstacles that exist to confront abuses committed by members of the clergy, he stressed: “Not having all the tools that civil society has, such as trained personnel who know how to talk to victims or who know their rights. This situation has an impact on the lives of the people who suffered abuse and on the institutions.”
Franck opined that there is a vision in Latin America to “face” the problem and that “the main religious leaders” have “a conscience to face the issue”, although there is still “resistance” in some cases.
Regarding Francisco’s message that opened the Congress, he considered it “strong in a good way” with “clear statements” such as that “it is not enough to ask for forgiveness” or to place “the victim” in the center.
Church leaders, representatives of civil society, religious and people interested in prevention participate in the Congress to raise awareness and mobilize actions for better protection of minors in Latin America.
The Archbishop of Boston (United States), member of the Council of Cardinals who advises Pope Francis and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, participates in the II Latin American Congress, whose first edition It was held in 2019 in Mexico.
The opening was in charge of Cardinal Adalberto Martínez Flores, Archbishop of Asunción, Monsignor Francisco Javier Pistilli Scorzara, Bishop of Encarnación and Grand Chancellor of the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Catholic University, and Daniel Portillo Trevizo, Director of the Research and Training Center Protection of Minors, (Ceprome) Latin American.
The second day will begin with a presentation by Father Han Zollner, director of the Institute of Anthropology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, who will refer to “The Catholic Church and sexual abuse of minors: becoming aware of the past with perspectives for a better future” and then O’malley will speak on the topic “Towards a greater transparency and responsibility in the management and treatment of cases of abuse in the church”.
On Thursday, Yago de la Cierva, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, will present on “Church communication and cases of abuse”, and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, from the Department of the Doctrine of the Faith, on “Towards a professional approach of the communication of abuse cases”.
In the afternoon, De la Cierva will continue with talks on “Transparency and the right to know: victims, community, media” and Monsignor Bertomeu will present the topic: “Communication between the listening commission and the Bishop: A responsible task? penal?”.
The Congress is organized by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference, the Catholic University of Asunción and Ceprome Latin America.