‘Sorry’ is not enough: Abuse victims need answers, support, pope says

National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

March 2, 2023

By Carol Glatz

It is not enough to ask people who have suffered abuse for their forgiveness, Pope Francis said.

They also must be offered “concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again” as well as the truth, transparency, safe spaces, psychological support and protection, the pope said in a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network March 2.

“The church must serve as a model to help solve the issue and bring it to light in society and in families,” he said.

At the start of each month, the network posts a short video of the pope offering his specific prayer intention. For the month of March, the pope dedicated his prayer intention for the victims of abuse. Child Abuse Prevention Month is observed in April in the United States.

In his video message, the pope said, “In response to cases of abuse, especially to those committed by members of the church, it’s not enough to ask for forgiveness.”

“Asking for forgiveness is necessary, but it is not enough. Asking for forgiveness is good for the victims, but they are the ones who have to be ‘at the center’ of everything,” he said.

“Their pain and their psychological wounds can begin to heal if they find answers — if there are concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again,” Francis said.

“The church cannot try to hide the tragedy of abuse of any kind. Nor when the abuse takes place in families, in clubs, or in other types of institutions,” he said. In fact, the church must be a model to help shine light on and remedy the problem.

“The church must offer safe spaces for victims to be heard, supported psychologically and protected,” he said.

“Let us pray for those who have suffered because of the wrongs done to them by members of the church; may they find within the church herself a concrete response to their pain and suffering,” he said.