February 28, 2019
By Michael Kelly
In his closing remarks to the summit on the protection of minors at the weekend, Pope Francis summoned the bishops and religious superiors with somewhat of a battle cry. The time has come, the Pontiff said, for an “all-out battle” against the abuse, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth.
Since the problem is present on every continent, the Pope said he called leaders of the world’s bishops and religious superiors to Rome because “I wanted us to face it together in a co-responsible and collegial way”, he said.
“We listened to the voice of victims, we prayed and asked for forgiveness from God and the people hurt, we took stock of our responsibility, and our duty to bring justice through truth and to radically reject every form” of sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience, he said.
“We want every activity and every place in the Church to be completely safe for minors,” he said, which means taking every possible measure so that such crimes never happen again.
If the main purpose of the summit was to ensure that every part of the Church is on the same page on the issue of abuse, it seems safe to cautiously hail the gathering as a success. Some victims and survivors expressed disappointment over what they perceived as a lack of concrete action, but organisers were keen to ask people to wait just a little bit longer for such progress.
What Francis did make clear is that never again will a religious leader be able to say they were unaware of the issue of abuse. Speaking in the Sala Regia, the Pope told some 190 cardinals, bishops and religious superiors from around the world, “the time has come, then, to work together to eradicate this evil from the body of our humanity by adopting every necessary measure already in force on the international level and ecclesial levels”.
“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth,” he said.
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