ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE "METER" ASSOCIATION
Sala Clementina - Saturday, May 15, 2021
Dear brothers and sisters ,
I am pleased to meet you representatives of the Meter Association , which since 1989 - when few talked about this plague - has been involved in the fight against pedophilia in Italy and in other countries. I greet and thank the Bishop Mons. Antonio Staglianò and Don Fortunato Di Noto, who founded this important reality. And I greet and thank Cardinal Paolo Lojudice, and all those who in various ways support the Association, for the protection and defense of abused and mistreated children.
In recent years, with your generous work, you have contributed to making visible the love of the Church for the least and defenseless. How many times, like the Good Samaritan of the Gospel, have you approached each other with respect and compassion, to welcome, console, protect! Closeness, compassion and tenderness: it is God's style. How many spiritual wounds you have bandaged! The ecclesial community is grateful to you for all this.
We can compare your Association to a house . When we say "home" we think of a place of welcome, shelter, custody. The word home has a typically familiar flavor, which evokes the warmth, affection, tenderness that can be experienced in a family, especially in times of anguish and pain. And you have been and are "home" for many children violated in their innocence or enslaved by the selfishness of adults. You have been and are a house of hope, favoring a path of liberation and redemption in many victims. I therefore encourage you to continue in this meritorious social and human activity, continuing to offer your precious contribution in the child protection service.
Your work is all the more necessary because, unfortunately, the abuses perpetrated against children continue. I refer in particular to the solicitations that take place via the internet and various social media, with pages and portals dedicated to child pornography. This is a scourge that, on the one hand, requires to be faced with renewed determination by public institutions, the authorities, and on the other, requires an even stronger awareness of families and the various educational agencies. Even today we see how many times in families, the first reaction is to cover everything up; a first reaction that is always present also in other institutions and also in the Church. We have to struggle with this old habit of covering up. I know that you are always vigilant in protecting children even in the context of the most modern means of communication.
Child abuse is a kind of "psychological murder" and in many cases a cancellation of childhood. Therefore, the protection of children against sexual exploitation is a duty of all States, called to identify both traffickers and abusers. At the same time, the denunciation and prevention carried out in the various areas of society are all the more necessary: school, sporting, recreational and cultural realities, religious communities, single individuals. Furthermore, in the field of the protection of minors and in the fight against pedophilia, specific interventions must be prepared for effective help to the victims.
On all these fronts, the Meter Association actively collaborates with institutional bodies and with various sectors of civil society, also through appropriate memoranda of understanding. Continue your work without hesitation, paying particular attention to the educational aspect, to form a firm conscience in the people and eradicate the culture of abuse and exploitation.
The logo of your Association is made up of a large letter “M” which recalls the idea of a womb, welcome, protection and a hug to the little ones. Inside the "M" there are twelve stars, symbol of the crown of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and mother of all children. She, a caring mother, wholly intent on loving her Son Jesus, is a model and guide for the entire Association, stimulating to love children victims of slavery and violence with evangelical charity. Charity towards neighbor is inseparable from the charity that God has for us and that we have for him. This is why I urge you to always root your daily activity in your daily relationship with God: in personal and community prayer, in listening to his Word. and above all in the Eucharist, sacrament of unity and bond of charity.
Dear brothers and sisters, I renew my appreciation and gratitude to the leaders, members, volunteers and those who cooperate with your Association. Do not be afraid in the face of misunderstandings and difficulties; there are many, but don't be afraid. Move forward with courage and perseverance. I accompany you with my prayer and also with my blessing. And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image screenshot from same