Pope Urges Church Workers to Fight Child Abuse, Even When Facing Threats
By Ines San Martin
February 25, 2020
|Pope Francis and Father Daniel Portillo of CEPROME. (Credit: screen caption.)|
ROME - In a video message sent to an abuse prevention formation center in Mexico, Pope Francis condemned the fact there are people willing to hire a hit man to stop abuse prevention and child protection.
“You will be misunderstood, [some] will tell you are wasting your time,” Francis says in the video sent to the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), an interdisciplinary center for child protection at the Pontifical University of Mexico. “You will be threatened, because there are those who are threatened. More than one will tell you that they are capable of hiring a hit man to clean up the field.”
“Be prudent,” he adds. “Take care of yourselves, but continue to be brave and work. Preventing the abuse of children, the abuse of those who are at a disadvantage due to their social situation or an illness, is an act of love.”
CEPROME works with the Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.
Standing next to Francis in the video is Father Daniel Portillo, president of CEPROME, who was in Rome recently and who met the pope to discuss the center’s ongoing initiatives.
Portillo told Crux that the video was filmed during the meeting he had with the pope, where the two men spoke about abuse prevention and child safeguarding.
The priest said that Francis “showed interest in supporting the initiative, particularly as a project in Latin America that includes a network of collaborators.”
He said that there’s a need to create a “synergy” between the different countries and bishops’ conference, “knowing that much can be done with a Latin American platform to prevent abuse.”
Portillo also told Francis about CEPROME’s upcoming initiatives, including a workshop on abuse prevention in formative environments, the third class for a diploma on abuse prevention in Latin America, and a workshop on sexual predators scheduled for November.
In addition, staff of CEPROME will be holding formation activities in Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Honduras and Peru in upcoming months.
“You call yourselves apostles of prevention,” Francis said in the video. “You are working on preventing with the strength of good all the destruction of evil. Seeing what evil is capable of destroying, one can feel at a loss.”
Yet, he said, evil can always be defeated, though it takes time and patience, and sometimes overcoming threats.
This is not the first time Pope Francis send a video to a formation seminar of CEPROME. Last July, he sent a video saying that any person, either lay or religious, priest or bishop, “who prevents children from reaching Jesus must be stopped while we’re still in time, or punished if they’ve committed a crime.”
When it comes to the Catholic Church, he said, children must be protected so that “no one - not a single person - abuses them, that no one might keep them from coming to Jesus.”
In the first video Francis also says that abuse is a “grave problem, a problem we all know, the shame it has brought on us as a church that our members have committed these crimes.”
“You never know where a child will be abused, where he will be driven off path, where he’ll be taught to do drugs, which is a way of corruption,” the pope said. “Let’s not think only about sexual abuse. Any kind of abuse [should be prevented].”