Cardinal Gomez at Vatican Meeting against Abuse "Listening to the victims begins by..." FULL TEXT + Video

21 February 2019
Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez
Archbishop of Bogotá
Introduction and context
We are responding today to a very concrete question in the face of the crisis
that we are experiencing in the Church. What is the responsibility of the bishop? In
order to understand this responsibility and to assume it, it is imperative that we try
to define, as far as possible, the nature of the crisis.
A brief analysis of what has happened shows us that it is not only a matter of
sexual deviations or pathologies in the abusers, but that there is a deeper root too.
This is the distortion of the meaning of ministry, which converts it into a means to
impose force, to violate the conscience and the bodies of the weakest. This has a
name: clericalism.

Moreover, in analyzing the way in which this crisis has generally been
responded to, we encounter a mistaken understanding of how to exercise ministry
that has led to serious errors of authority which have increased the severity of the
crisis. This has a name: clericalism.
It is this reality that the Holy Father Pope Francis describes in his letter to
God's people in August of last year: “This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of
understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where
sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the
case with clericalism … To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all
forms of clericalism.”
Clear words that urge us to go to the root of the problem in order to face it.
But it is not easy “to say “no” to abuse (and thereby) to say an emphatic “no” to
all forms of clericalism”, because it is a mentality that has permeated our Church
throughout the ages. Also, we are hardly ever aware that it underlies our way of
conceiving ministry and acting at decisive moments. This observation means that it
is necessary to unmask the underlying clericalism and bring about a change of
mentality; in more precise terms, this change is called conversion.
Fundamentally, our responsibility is a meticulous coherence between our
words and our actions. The mentality behind our words must undergo a thorough
revision so that our words and actions correspond to God's will in the Church at
this time.
This invitation to conversion is addressed to the whole Church, but first of all
to us who are her pastors.

1.1. The Bishop's Responsibility as Pastor
As Bishops, our responsibility begins by constantly increasing our awareness
that we are nothing on our own. We can do nothing on our own, since it is not we
who have chosen the ministry but the Lord who has chosen us (cf. Jn 15:16-18) to
make his salvation present through the acting of the Church, without tarnishing his
presence with the darkness of our counter-witness.
Aware of this task, we have to admit that many times the Church - in the
persons of her bishops - did not know (and still, at times, does not know) how to
behave as she should in order to face the crisis caused by abuses quickly and
decisively. We often proceed like the hirelings who, on seeing the wolf coming,
flee and leave the flock unprotected. And we flee in many ways: trying to deny the
dimension of the denunciations presented to us; not listening to the victims;
ignoring the damage caused to the victims of abuse; transferring the accused to
other places where they continue to abuse; or trying to reach monetary settlements
to buy silence. Acting in this way, we clearly manifest a clerical mentality that
leads us to misunderstand the institution of the Church and place it above the
suffering of the victims and the demands of justice. This mentality accepts the
justifications of the perpetrators over the testimony of those affected. It silences the
cry of pain of the victimized so as to avoid the public noise that a denunciation
before civil authorities or a trial can provoke. It takes counterproductive measures
that ignore the good of the communities and the most vulnerable. Relying
exclusively on the advice of lawyers, psychiatrists and specialists of all kinds, it
neglects any deep sense of compassion and mercy. It goes even so far as to lie or
distort the facts so as not to confess the horrible reality that presents itself.
This mentality is manifest in the tendency to affirm that the Church is not
and need not be subject to the power of civil authority, like other citizens, but that
we can and must handle all our affairs within the Church governed solely by
Canon Law. This mentality goes so far as to regard the intervention of civil
authority as an undue intrusion - which, in these times of growing secularism, can
be alleged to be persecution against the faith.
We have to recognize this crisis in its full depth: to realize that the damage is
not done by outsiders but that the first enemies are within us, among us bishops
and priests and consecrated persons who have not lived up to our vocation. We
have to recognize that the enemy is within.
Recognizing and confronting the crisis - overcoming our clerical mentality -
also means not to minimize it by asserting that abuses occur on a larger scale in
other institutions. The fact that abuses occur in other institutions and groups can
never justify the occurrence of abuses in the Church, because it contradicts the
very essence of the ecclesial community and constitutes a monstrous distortion of
the priestly ministry which, by its very nature, must seek the good of souls as its
supreme end. There is no possible justification for not denouncing, not unmasking,
not courageously and forcefully confronting any abuse that presents itself within
our Church.
We also have to recognize that the press and other media and social networks
have been very important in helping us to face the crisis rather than sidestep it. The
media do a valuable job in this regard, a job that needs to be supported. As Pope
Francis put it in his Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia “In discussing this
scourge, some within the Church take to task certain communications
professionals, accusing them of ignoring the overwhelming majority of cases of
abuse that are not committed by clergy – the statistics speak of more than 95% –

and accusing them of intentionally wanting to give the false impression that this
evil affects the Catholic Church alone. I myself would like to give heartfelt thanks
to those media professionals who were honest and objective and sought to unmask
these predators and to make their victims’ voices heard. Even if it were to involve
a single case of abuse (something itself monstrous), the Church asks that people
not be silent but bring it objectively to light, since the greater scandal in this
matter is that of cloaking the truth.”
There is no doubt that we have already done a great deal to address the crisis
of abuse. However, had it not been for the valuable insistence of victims and the
pressure exerted by the media, we might not have decided to face this shameful
crisis to this degree. The damage caused is so deep, the pain inflicted is so
profound, the consequences of the abuses that have taken place in the Church are
so immense that we will never be able to say that we have done all that can be
done. It is our responsibility leads us to work every day so that abuses never
happen again in the Church and so that those who eventually do perpetrate abuse
receive the punishment they deserve and make appropriate amends.
1.2. The responsibility of the bishop as a member of the episcopal
college under the supreme authority of the Church
The bishop is not alone in dealing with this crisis and in the process of
conversion that he must undergo in order to face it. His ministry is a collegial
ministry. By his episcopal ordination, the bishop becomes part of the college
formed by all the successors of the apostles under the guidance and authority of the
successor of the apostle Peter. More than ever we must feel called to strengthen our
fraternal bonds, to enter into true communal discernment, to act always with the
same norms and to support each other in making decisions. Our strength can
double if deep unity marks our being and acting.
To help us in this task, the popes have enlightened us with their words; and
the different dicasteries of the Roman Curia have issued instructions that show us
the road we have to travel. We already know how to proceed, but it seems
desirable that a “Code of Conduct” be offered to the bishop which, in harmony
with the “Directory for Bishops”, clearly shows what the bishop's course of action
should be in the context of this crisis. Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter in the
form of his motu proprio “Like a loving mother”, presents us with the requirements
for a bishop's action and his removal in the case of proven gross negligence. The
“Code of Conduct” will clarify and demand of us the conduct that is proper to the
bishop. Its obligatory nature will be a guarantee that we all act in unison and in the
right direction, since it gives us clear norms to control our conduct and provides
concrete suggestions for the necessary corrective measures. It will be a guide for
the Church and society as well, allowing everyone to properly assess the bishop's
actions in specific cases and giving us all the confidence that we are doing well. It
will also be a concrete way of strengthening the communion that is born of
episcopal collegiality.
The ongoing formation of the bishop has been a constant concern of the
Church. Changing times pose new challenges to which the bishop must respond.
As we face this crisis we need to be in a permanent process of being updated,
formed and instructed, so that our response will always be the right one. This too is
an obligatory matter since the world needs to see perfect unity in our response.
Here again, the crisis calls for a conversion that goes to the depths of our
ecclesial acting. The present encounter is a clear sign and a real opportunity to
grow in this spirit of communion.

The bishop also has responsibility for the sanctification of priests and
consecrated persons. This responsibility encompasses a wide range of activity that
begins with the discernment of the vocation of future priests and consecrated
persons, continues in initial formation, and persists throughout the entire existence
of those who have been called to a life of total dedication to the service of the
Church. In the light of the crisis unleashed by reports of sexual abuse by clerics,
this responsibility has acquired special dimensions, in which the closeness of the
bishop becomes indispensable. The permanent dialogue - of friend, brother, father
- that allows the bishop to know his priests and to accompany them in their joys
and sorrows, in their achievements and failures, in their difficulties and successes,
is the unwavering manner in which the bishop must travel in his relationship with
his priests.
And what is our responsibility to abusive priests? As bishops, we must fulfil
our duty to confront immediately the situation that arises from a denunciation.
Every denunciation must immediately trigger the procedures that are specified both
in canon law and in the civil law of each nation, according to the guidelines
established by each episcopal conference. The guidelines help us to distinguish
between sin subject to divine mercy, ecclesial crime subject to canonical
legislation, and civil crime subject to the corresponding civil legislation. These are
fields that should not be confused and which, when properly distinguished and
separated, allow us to act with full justice. Today it is clear to us that any
negligence on our part can lead to canonical penalties, including removal from
ministry, and civil penalties that can even lead to imprisonment for concealment or
Throughout the canonical process, it is essential that the accused be heard.
The bishop's gracious closeness is a first step toward the recovery of the offender.
Conscientiously following the guidelines drawn by the episcopal conference
allows the bishop to demonstrate for his diocese the route that will be followed in
the various cases of accusations of abuse by a cleric. The special care that is taken
in this implementation will determine to a large extent whether the case is treated
with full justice. But it is not enough to prosecute and convict the accused, when
the fault is proven; it is also necessary to provide for his treatment so that there is
no relapse.
How justice is implemented concretely in the different processes that deal with
abusive clerics is one of the most important factors in overcoming the crisis with
regard to the health of priests, since one often hears people say, “Where are the
rights of priests?” Yes, there are cases of rightly accused priests and consecrated
persons; but this cannot, under any circumstances, justify unfair treatment of the
offenders. In the preliminary investigations, in both canonical and civil processes,
safeguarding the inalienable rights of the possible perpetrators has been and must
always be a concern. Furthermore, it has often been the fear of violating these
rights that has led to actions that were later described as cover-up and complicity.
However, we must be clear that the rights of the perpetrators - for example, to their
good reputation, to the exercise of their ministry, to continue leading a normal life
within society - can never take precedence over the rights of the victims, of the
weakest, of the most vulnerable.
How have Catholics reacted to the scandal of abuses by clergy and
consecrated persons? There is no unequivocal answer to that, but once again it has

been noted that for the vast majority of both Catholics and non-Catholics, the
Church is identified with her priests and consecrated persons. It is the Church that
is held responsible for what has happened. This should motivate us to grow ever
closer to the people of God who are called to grow each day in their awareness of
belonging to the Church and of feeling co-responsible for her.
It is in the context of being close to God's people that we must situate our
approach to the victims of abuse. And our first duty is to listen to them. One of the
first sins committed at the beginning of the crisis was precisely not having listened
with open hearts to those who charged that they had been abused by clerics.
Listening to the victims begins by not minimizing the pain and damage that
were caused. In many cases it was thought that the only motive behind the
denunciations was to seek financial compensation. “The only thing they are
looking for is money” was the recurrent phrase. There is no doubt that accusations
are sometimes orchestrated. There is also no doubt that on many occasions,
attempts have been made to reduce the redress to the victims in terms of monetary
compensation without taking into account the true scope of that reparation. And
there is no doubt that on many occasions, we have also given in to the temptation
to try to fix unsustainable situations with money in order to silence a probable
scandal. This harmful reality must not stop us, however, from becoming aware of
our serious and grave responsibility for the redress and compensation of victims.
Money can never repair the damage caused, but it becomes necessary in many
cases so that the victims can pursue the psychotherapeutic treatments they need,
which are generally very expensive. Some victims have been unable to recover
from the damage caused; they cannot work and need economic support to survive.
For some the pecuniary recognition becomes part of recognizing the damage
caused. It is clear that we are obliged to offer them all the necessary means -
spiritual, psychological, psychiatric, social - for their recovery.
The responsibility of the bishop is very broad and covers many fields, but it is
always inescapable.
In his address to the American cardinals in 2002 St. John Paul II gave the
essential direction that all our efforts must follow to overcome the current crisis:
“So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier
episcopate, and a holier Church”. With the Lord's help and with our docility to his
grace we will make this crisis lead to a profound renewal of the whole Church with
holier bishops, more aware of their mission as pastors and fathers of the flock; with
holier priests and consecrated persons, more dedicated to exemplary service to
God's people; with a holier people of God, more aware of their co-responsibility to
build permanently a Church of communion and participation, where everyone,
especially children and adolescents, always finds a safe place that will promote
their human growth and their living of the faith. In this way we will contribute to
eradicating the culture of abuse in the world in which we live.
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Gabriel said…
“It is our responsibility leads us to work every day so that abuses never happen again in the Church and so that those who eventually do perpetrate abuse receive the punishment they deserve and make appropriate amends.” (Cardinal Gómez)

Bishop Patrick Dunn, listen to these words of Cardinal Gómez delivered on February 22, 2019 at Vatican.

Fr. Lio Rotor should received the punishment he deserve for sleeping with married women but instead you promoted him as parish priest of St. Mary Church in Northcote, Auckland.

DEFROCK him! DEFROCK Fr. Lio Rotor before he victimizes more vulnerable adult women in his parish or in your diocese.