Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pope and Bishops Confess Faults of Church during Penitential Service asking Forgiveness at Vatican Meeting against Abuse

Pope, Bishops confess faults in penitential liturgy
On Day 3 of the "Protection of Minors" Meeting, church leaders examined their consciences and confessed their sins during a penitential service at the Vatican.
By Vatican News

“We confess that bishops priests, deacons, and religious in the Church have done violence to children and youth… that we have shielded the guilty… that we have not acknowledged the suffering of many victims… that we bishops did not live up to our responsibilities”.

The collective confession of faults by Pope Francis and almost two hundred Cardinals, Bishops, and other church leaders, was perhaps the most striking portion of the Penitential Service that marked the end of the final working day of the Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church.

“Lord Jesus Christ”, they prayed, “we ask for your mercy on us sinners. Kyrie eleison”. Lord, have mercy.

The Prodigal Son
The Service began with a hymn of penance, and penitential psalm, followed by the reading of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, from the Gospel of St Luke. Following the Gospel reading, Archbishop Philip Naameh, of Tamale, Ghana, addressed the assembly, with a somber reflection. “Too often we have kept quiet, looked the other way, avoided conflicts – we were too smug to confront ourselves with the dark side of the Church. We have squandered the trust placed in us”.

The Prodigal Son, he said, lost everything, including “his social status, his good standing, his reputation”. And speaking for himself and his brother Bishops, Archbishop Naameh said, “We should not be surprised if we suffer a similar fate… We should not complain about this, but ask instead, what should we do differently?”

Archbishop Naameh said church leaders can, must be willing to follow in the footsteps of the Prodigal Son, to admit their mistakes, to confess, to speak openly about it, and be ready to accept the consequences. He acknowledged that the current Meeting was only a first step. “As with the son who returns home in the Gospel, he said, everything is not yet accomplished. At the very least, he must still win over his brother again”. “We should also do the same”, the Archbishop concluded, win over our brothers and sisters in the congregations and communities, regain their trust, and re-establish their willingness to cooperate with us, to contribute to the establishment of the kingdom.”

Survivor testimony
After the homily, the participants once again heard from a victim of abuse, who spoke of the lifelong wounds inflicted by abuse: the humiliation, the confusion, the desire to escape – even to escape yourself. “What hurts the most”, he said,” “is that nobody will understand you. That lives with you, for the rest of your life.” But he ended his witness with a word of hope. “I now manage to cope with this better,” he said. “I try to focus on the God-given right to be allowed to live. I can and I should be here. This gives me courage.”
FULL TEXT Release from Vatican News va - (Image source Shared from

Cardinal admits Abuse Files Destroyed - Press Briefing of Vatican Meeting against Abuse -

For Full Text Testimony of Cardinal Marx (discusses files) please see:
Protection of Minors: Press Briefing on Day Three
Day Three of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting in the Vatican focusses on the theme of “Transparency”. Among the participants at the Press Briefing, an African woman religious, the Jesuit Superior General, and the President of the German Bishops’ Conference.
By Vatican News

The Press Briefing began with the Moderator of the “Protection of Minors” Meeting, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, presenting what he called his four “observations” of the last 24 hours. He described the testimony of a victim-survivor on Friday evening, as “the most intense moment of our encounter so far”. “Everyone was deeply touched” by her testimony, he said, confirming how the fact of “personal listening” achieves important results.

The contribution of women
Fr. Lombardi then commented on the contribution of women at this Meeting: Dr Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary for the Section for Laity of the Vatican Dicastery, who spoke on the theme of “Communio: to work together”; and Sr Veronica Openibo from Nigeria, who addressed the Bishops about “Openness: sent out into the world”.

Attitudes and sensitivities among the Bishops have already changed in three days, continued Fr. Lombardi. He stressed the special importance of follow-up based on the reflections and conclusions of the small working groups.

Working groups
The Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, provided a brief summary of those working group interventions, one of which described this “Protection of Minors” Meeting as a “positive point of no-return”. Some groups discussed the importance of accompanying victims and re-building relationships with survivors and their families. Others explored the themes of collegiality and synodality, and how to apply them.

Further issues included the role of the laity and of the family, seminary training and priestly formation, and the need for more accurate screening and selection of candidates. The crisis in the family was identified as one cause of “affective immaturity” in some individuals. The universal conclusion was that “all the People of God are called to exercise responsibility” to ensure the protection of minors in the Church and the world.

Moving forward
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, addressed the Meeting on Saturday on the topic, “Transparency in a community of believers”. On Friday, the Cardinal met for about 90 minutes with 16 survivors of abuse from the ECA (Ending Clerical Abuse) Group, outside the Vatican. “We spoke with each other in a way that would not have been possible years ago”, he said. In fact, we have made progress in the field of “dialogue and openness”, said Cardinal Marx, stressing the importance of “translating words into facts”. Appeals are not enough, he added. We need to monitor and verify, “ensuring we are doing what is indicated in the guidelines”. The Cardinal described this “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting as “one step moving forward”, but a “good step forward”.

Identifying causes
Also on the panel at the Press Briefing was Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He spoke about “justice and healing”, about accountability, avoiding the culture of silence, asking forgiveness for mistakes made, and moving forward consistently and coherently. Fr Sosa also addressed the issue of priestly formation, saying that such training needs to promote “emotional maturity that enables us to have healthy relationships”. The Jesuit Father General said that, “acknowledging the truth about abuse is, in itself, a great step forward”. But, he said, it is also important “to identify the causes, in order to seek remedies and apply strategies”.

People of hope
In her intervention, Sr Veronica Openibo described her reaction to the testimony of an abuse victim in the Synod Hall on Friday evening: “Something happened in that Hall as we listened”, she said. It was “as though we witnessed what she experienced”. Sr. Veronica said the moving personal testimony of this survivor had increased the Bishops’ capacity “to listen, empathize, and sympathize”.

Part of her own reaction was to remember how we must all be “people of hope”, she said. At the same time, we must have “committed plans to ensure, not just young ones, but all vulnerable people, are safe”. “The buck stops with the Bishops”, she concluded, but all of us must “work together” to put an end to abuse.

God’s help
Finally, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta also praised the contribution of women to this “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting. He called it “the extraordinary witness of women” that “brings the wisdom that we need”, and recalled Pope Francis’ definition of the Church as Woman.

Repeating his call for a “culture of disclosure”, Archbishop Scicluna spoke of transparency as “communion and sharing”. We need more communication with the victims, he said, claiming they are “not informed” and confirming they have “a role to play”.

In conclusion, the Archbishop thanked all those people, all over the world, who are accompanying the Bishops and participants at this Meeting with their prayers: “We need God’s help”, he said, “if we are to get it right”. FULL TEXT Release from Vatican News va

Female Journalist at Vatican Meeting against Abuse "Victims are not just numbers; they are not statistics." FULL TEXT + Video

23 February 2019 (Image source share - Google Images - FB Valentina Alazraki)
Communication: for all people
Valentina Alazraki
First and foremost I would like to introduce myself. I am a correspondent in
Rome and in the Vatican for Televisa, Mexican television. I followed the end of
the Pontificate of St. Pope Paul VI, the 33 days of the Pontificate of John Paul I,
the entire Pontificates of St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. I
have covered 150 journeys with the latter three Popes.
They invited me to speak to you about communication and, in particular,
about how transparent communication is indispensable to fight the sexual abuse of
minors by men of the Church.
At first glance, there is little in common between you, bishops and cardinals,
and me, a Catholic lay woman with no particular position in the Church, and
moreover a journalist. Yet we share something very powerful: we all have a
mother; we are here because a woman gave birth to us. Compared to you, perhaps I
have an additional privilege: I am a mother first and foremost.
Therefore I do not feel that I am a representative just of journalists, but also of
mothers, families, civil society. I would like to share with you my experiences and
my life and — if you will allow me — to add some practical advice.

My point of departure, motherhood
I would like to begin precisely with motherhood in order to develop the topic
entrusted to me, which is to say: how the Church should communicate about this
topic of abuse.
I doubt that anyone in this hall does not think the Church is, first of all,
mother. Many of us present here have or have had a brother or sister. Let us also
remember that our mothers, while loving us all in the same way, were especially
devoted to the frailest, weakest children, to those who perhaps did not know how
to move ahead in life on their own feet and needed a little push.
For a mother there are no first or second-class children; there are stronger
children and more vulnerable ones. Nor are there first and second-class children for
the Church. Her seemingly more important children, as are you, bishops and
cardinals (I dare not say the Pope), are no more so than any other boy, girl or
young person who has experienced the tragedy of being the victim of abuse by a
What is the Church’s mission? To preach the Gospel. But to do so she needs a
moral guide; coherence between what one preaches and what one lives is the basis
of being a credible institution, worthy of trust and respect.
For this reason, in facing criminal conduct such as the abuse of minors, do
you think that to be true to herself, an institution like the Church can have another
way if not that of reporting this crime? That she can have another way if not that of
being on the side of the victim and not that of the oppressor? Who is the weakest,
most vulnerable child? The priest who abused, the bishop who abused and covered
up, or the victim?
You may be certain that for journalists, mothers, families and the entire
society, the abuse of minors is one of the main causes of anguish. The abuse of
minors, the devastation of their lives, of their families’ lives, worry us. We believe
such abuse is one of the most reprehensible crimes.
Ask yourselves: are you enemies, as determined as we are, of those who
commit abuse or who cover them up?
We have decided which side to be on. Have you done so truly, or in word
Allies or enemies
If you are against those who commit or cover up abuse, then we are on the
same side. We can be allies, not enemies. We will help you to find the rotten
apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones.
But if you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children,
mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we
journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies.
I have been covering the Vatican for almost 45 years. Five different
pontificates, extremely important for the life of the Church and of the world, with
lights and shadows. In these four decades I have really seen it all.
How many times have I heard that the scandal of abuse is “the press’ fault,
that it is a plot by certain media outlets to discredit the Church, that there are
hidden powers backing it in order to put an end to this institution”.
We journalists know that there are reporters who are more thorough than
others, and that there are media outlets more or less dependent on political,
ideological or economic interests. But I believe that in no case can the mass media
be blamed for having uncovered or reported on the abuse.
Abuses against minors are neither rumours nor gossip: they are crimes. I
remember Pope Benedict XVI’s words during the flight to Lisbon, when he told us
that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from external enemies but
arises from sins within her.

I would like you to leave this hall with the conviction that we journalist are
neither those who abuse nor those who cover up. Our mission is to assert and defend
a right, which is a right to information based on truth in order to obtain justice.
We journalists know that abuse is not limited to the Catholic Church, but you
must understand that we have to be more rigorous with you than with others, by
virtue of your moral role. Stealing, for example, is wrong, but if the one stealing is
a police officer it seems more serious to us, because it is the opposite of what he or
she should do, which is to protect the community from thieves. If doctors or nurses
poison their patients rather than take care of them, the act draws even more of our
attention because it goes against their ethics, their professional code.

Lack of communication, another abuse
As a journalist, as a woman and mother, I would like to tell you that we think
abusing a minor is as contemptible as is covering up the abuse. And you know
better than I that abuses have been covered up systematically, from the ground up.
I think you should be aware that the more you cover up, the more you play
ostrich, fail to inform the mass media and thus, the faithful and public opinion, the
greater the scandal will be. If someone has a tumour, it is not cured by hiding it from
one’s family or friends; silence will not make it heal; in the end it will be the most
highly recommended treatments that will prevent metastasis and lead to healing.
Communicating is a fundamental duty because, if you fail to do so you
automatically become complicit with the abusers. By not providing the information
that could prevent these people from committing further abuse, you are not giving
the children, young people and their families the tools to defend themselves against
new crimes.
The faithful do not forgive the lack of transparency, because it is a new
assault on the victims. Those who fail to inform encourage a climate of suspicion
and incite anger and hatred against the institution.
I saw it with my own eyes during Pope Francis’ journey to Chile in 2108.
There was no indifference: there was indignation and anger for the systematic
concealment, for the silence, for the deception of the faithful and the suffering of
victims who, for decades, had not been listened to, were not believed.
Victims have first and foremost the right to know what has happened, what
you have done in order to distance and punish those who have committed abuse.
Even if the guilty party is dead, the victim’s pain is not extinguished. Although the
guilty party can no longer be punished, at least the victim, who perhaps has lived
many years with that hidden wound, can be consoled. Additionally, other victims
who remain in silence will dare to come out, and you will promote their healing
and their consolation.
Take the initiative
In Spanish we say that he who strikes first, lands three strikes. Obviously, it is
not a matter of striking but of informing.
I think it would be healthier, more positive and more helpful if the Church were
the first to provide information, in a proactive and not reactive way, as normally
happens. You should not wait to respond to legitimate questions from the press (or
from the people, your people) when a journalistic investigation uncovers a case.
In the age we live in, it is very difficult to hide a secret. With the prominence
of social networks, the ease of posting photos, audio and video, and the rapid
social and cultural changes, the Church has only one path: to concentrate on
awareness and transparency, which go hand in hand.
Report things when you know them. Of course, it will not be pleasant, but it is
the only way, if you want us to believe you when you say “from now on we will no
longer tolerate cover-ups”. The first to benefit from transparency is the institution,
because the focus is on the guilty party.

Learn from past mistakes
I am Mexican and cannot fail to mention perhaps the most terrible case that
happened in the Church, that of Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the
Legion of Christ. I witnessed this grim case from beginning to end. Aside from the
moral justice over the crimes committed by that man, who according to some was
mentally ill and to others an evil genius, I assure you that at the basis of that
scandal, which did so much harm to thousands of people, to the point of tarnishing
the memory of one who is now a saint, there was unhealthy communication.
One need not forget that in the Legion there was a fourth vow according to
which if a Legionaries saw something he was uncertain of regarding a superior, he
could neither criticize much less comment about it.
Without this censure, without this total concealment, had there been
transparency, Marcial Maciel would not have been able, for decades, to abuse
seminarians and to have three or four lives, wives and children, who came to
accuse him of having abused his own children.
For me this is the most emblematic case of unhealthy, corrupt
communication, from which various lessons can and must be learned.
Pope Francis told the Curia that in other eras, in addressing these subjects,
there was ignorance, lack of preparation, and disbelief. I dare say that there was
also corruption.
Behind the silence, the lack of healthy, transparent communication, quite
often there is not only the fear of scandal, concern for the institution’s good name,
but also money, compensation, gifts, construction permits for schools and
universities perhaps in areas where construction was not permitted. I am speaking
of what I have seen and thoroughly investigated.
Pope Francis always reminds us that the devil enters through the pockets, and
he is absolutely right. Transparency will help you to fight economic corruption.
In processing internal information, from the ground up, we have learned even
from various nuncios, and I can testify to this, that there have been cases of coverup, obstacles barring access to the Pope of the time, underestimating the gravity of
the information or discrediting it, as if it were the fruit of obsessions or fantasies.
Transparency will also help you to fight corruption in the government.
It was also thanks to some courageous victims, several courageous journalists
and, I think I must say it, to a courageous Pope like Benedict XVI, that this scandal
was made public and the tumour eradicated.
It is extremely important to learn the lesson and not to repeat the same
mistake. Transparency will help you to be coherent with the Gospel message and
to put into practice the principle according to which in the Church no one is above
the law: we are all accountable to God and to others.
Avoid secrecy, embrace transparency
Secrecy, in the sense of an excessive tendency toward secrecy, is strictly tied
to the abuse of power: it is like a safety net for those who abuse power. Today our
societies have adopted transparency as a general rule, and the public believes that
the only reason not to be transparent is the desire to conceal something negative or
My sensation is that within the Church there is still more resistance to
recognizing that the problem of abuse exists and it is imperative to address it with
all the instruments possible. Some believe that it happens only in certain countries.
I believe we can speak of a generalized situation, to a greater or lesser extent,
which in any case must be dealt with and resolved.
Those who hide something are not necessarily corrupt, but all corrupt people
are hiding something. Not all those who keep secrets are committing an abuse of
power, but all those who abuse power are generally hiding things.
Of course, transparency has its limitations.
For this reason, we do not expect you to inform us of just any accusation
against a priest. We understand that there can and must be a prior investigation, but
do so quickly, comply with the laws of the country you live in, and if envisaged,
present the case to the civil justice system.
If the accusation is shown to be credible, you must provide information about
the ongoing processes, about what you are doing; you must say that you have
removed the guilty party from his parish or from where he was practicing; you
must report it yourselves, both in the dioceses and in the Vatican. At times, the
Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office provides information about a resignation
without explaining the reasons. There are priests who have gone immediately to
inform the faithful that they were ill and not that they were leaving because they
had committed abuse. I think that the news about the resignation of a priest who
has committed abuse should be released with clarity, in an explicit way.
In Camera Caritatis, silence on these topics is permissible only if it injures no
one, but never when it can do harm.
Three practical tips for living transparency
I have already told you that I think communication is indispensable to resolving
this problem. Now allow me to suggest three ways for you to put transparency into
practice at the moment of communicating about the sexual abuse of minors.
1) Put the victims in first place
If the Church wants to learn how to communicate about abuse, her first point
of reference must be the victim.
Pope Francis has asked the participants in this meeting to meet the victims, to
listen to them and to be available to them before coming to Rome.
I will not ask you to raise your hand to see who has done so, but answer
silently to yourselves.
Victims are not just numbers; they are not statistics. They are people whose
lives, sexuality, emotions, trust in other human beings, perhaps even God, as well
as the ability to love have been ruined.
And why is this important? Because it is difficult to inform and communicate
something about which we have no direct knowledge.
In the case of abuse it is even more obvious. We cannot speak about this
subject if we have not listened to the victims, if we have not shared their pain, if
we have not touched by hand the wounds that abuse has caused not only in their
bodies but also in their minds, in their hearts, in their faith. If you meet them, they
will have a name; they will have a face, and the experience you have with them
will be reflected not only in the way in which you confront the issue, but also in
the way in which you communicate and resolve it.
The Pope has told us that he meets them regularly, at Santa Marta, that he
considers them a of his priority. You should do the same; I do not believe you have
less time than the Pope.
Remember, transparency is showing what you do. Only if you put the victims
in first place will you be credible when you say you have decided to eradicate the
scourge of abuse.
2) Allow yourselves to seek advice
The second thing is to let yourselves seek advice. Before making decisions,
seek advice from people with sound judgment who can help you.
There should always be communicators among these advisors. I think the
Church should have, at all levels, communications experts, and should heed them
when they tell her that it is always better to inform than to keep silent or even lie. It
is an illusion to think that a scandal can be hidden today. It is like covering the sky
with a finger. It cannot be done. It is no longer acceptable nor permissible. Thus,
all of you must understand that silence is far more costly than facing reality and
making it public.
I think it is essential that you invest in communications in all your
ecclesiastical structures, with highly qualified and experienced individuals in order
to address the demands for transparency in today’s world.
The figure of the spokesperson is fundamental. Not only must it be a highly
trained individual, but he or she must also be able to rely on the full trust of the
bishop and have direct access to him 24 hours a day. This is not a 9 to 5 job.
Everything can happen at any moment, and at any moment there can be a need to
react, although, I repeat, it would be better if you were the first to provide the news.
We journalists prefer to speak directly with the boss. But we accept speaking
with a spokesperson, if we know that he or she has access to the boss and passes on
what the boss, fully apprised, is thinking.
3) ‘Professionalize’ your communications
In the third place, you must communicate better.
What kind of transparency do journalists, mothers, families, the faithful,
public opinion expect from an institution such as the Church?
I think it is fundamental that, at every level, from the parish up to here, in the
Vatican, there be structures perhaps standardized but very agile and flexible, that
quickly offer accurate information.
It may be incomplete for lack of a deeper investigation, but the response cannot
be silence or ‘no comment’, because then we will seek answers by asking others,
and thus it will be third parties informing people in the way they wish to do so.
If you do not have available all the necessary information, if there are doubts,
if there is already an investigation, it is better to explain it in the best way possible
so as not to give the impression that you do not want to respond because you are
hiding something. It is important to follow up on the information at all times and it
is especially important to react quickly. If information is not given in a timely
manner, the response is no longer of interest; it will be too late and others will do
so, perhaps incorrectly.
The risk is high and the price of this kind of conduct is even higher. Silence
gives the impression that the accusations — be they true or false, partly true and
partly false — are totally true and that there is fear of giving a response that can be
immediately contradicted.
I have seen with my own eyes how bad information, or inadequate information,
has caused tremendous damage, harmed the victims and their families, not allowed
justice to be served, caused the faith of many people to waver.
I assure you that investing in communications is a very profitable matter, and
is not a short-term investment; it is a long-term investment.
I would like to conclude this speech by mentioning a different topic than that
of the abuse of minors, but important for a woman journalist such as myself.
We are at the threshold of another scandal, that of nuns and women religious
as victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. L’Osservatore Romano’s
women’s magazine has reported it and, during the return flight from Abu Dhabi,
Pope Francis acknowledged that work has been underway on this subject for some
time, that it is true that more needs to be done, and that there is a will to do more.
I would like that on this occasion the Church play offense and not defense, as
has happened in the case of the abuse of minors. It could be a great opportunity for
the Church to take the initiative and be on the forefront of denouncing these
abuses, which are not only sexual but also abuses of power.
As I take my leave I thank Pope Francis for having expressed his gratitude,
before the Curia last December, for the work of journalists, who have been honest
and objective in uncovering predatory priests and have made victims’ voices heard.
I hope that after this meeting you will return home and not avoid us, but
instead seek us out. That you will return to your dioceses thinking that we are not
vicious wolves, but, on the contrary, that we can join our forces against the real
wolves. Thank you.

Religious Sister Speaks at Vatican Meeting against Abuse " break any culture of silence and secrecy among us.." FULL TEXT + Video

23 February 2019
Openness to the World as a Consequence of the Ecclesial Mission
Address to Presidents of Bishops Conferences
23 February 2019
Sr. Veronica Openibo SHCJ
Society leader: Society of the Holy Child Jesus
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and anointed me to preach good news to
the poor. The Spirit has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and
recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s year
of favour”. (Luke 4:18-19)
As a result of the self-understanding of her mission in the world today, the
Church needs to update and create new systems and practices that will promote
action without fear of making mistakes. Clerical sex abuse is a crisis that has
reduced the credibility of the Church when transparency should be the hallmark of
mission as followers of Jesus Christ. The fact that many accuse the Catholic
Church today of negligence is disturbing. The Church must do everything possible
to protect its young and vulnerable members. The focus should not to be on fear or
disgrace but rather on the Church’s mission to serve with integrity and justice.

The mission of the Church flows directly from our deepest understanding of
the Incarnation. Catholic Christianity is grounded in belief in a God who chose to
be one with the human world.
The self-understanding of the mission of the Church must be a manifestation
of the Christ we know as both human and divine. The whole of Christ’s mission
was to reveal who God is and who we can become. This implies a total acceptance
of all that is human and all that the power of God’s grace does to transform us into
being witnesses of the divine. Our world-view, if Christian, must be based on
respect and dignity for each human being.
At the present time, we are in a state of crisis and shame. We have seriously
clouded the grace of the Christ-mission. Is it possible for us to move from fear of
scandal to truth? How do we remove the masks that hide our sinful neglect? What
policies, programs and procedures will bring us to a new, revitalized starting point
characterized by a transparency that lights up the world with God’s hope for us in
building the Reign of God?
Throughout the time of writing this presentation, my eyes were cloudy and I
wondered what this could mean. Then I remembered the first time I watched the
movie Spotlight, the 2015 American biographical drama about the investigation by
the Boston Globe into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the
Boston area by numerous priests and the alleged cover-up by ecclesial authorities.
At the end of the film was a long list of cases and the dioceses where they
occurred and reading about the number of children affected (and later seeing the
vast amount of money spent on settlements), tears of sorrow flowed. How could
the clerical Church have kept silent, covering these atrocities? The silence, the
carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and
the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable. Presumably there were
significant signs in the confessional and in spiritual direction. With a heavy and
sad heart, I think of all the atrocities we have committed as members of the
Church. The Constitutions of my own congregation reminds me: “In Christ we
unite ourselves to the whole of humanity, especially to the poor and suffering. We
accept our share of responsibility for the sin of the world and so live that his love
may prevail”. (SHCJ Constitutions n.6). We must acknowledge that our
mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and
scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church. We pause to pray Lord have
mercy on us!
In Gaudete et Exsultate (164) we read that “Those who think they commit no
grievous sins against God’s law can fall into a state of dull lethargy. Since they
see nothing serious to reproach themselves with, they fail to realize that their
spiritual life has gradually turned lukewarm. They end up weakened and
corrupted”. So many aspects of this statement from Pope Francis stand out for
me on the issue of child abuse, as also these sentences from the PCB Preparation
Document: “A Church that is closed/shut off is no longer Church. Her mission
would be thwarted. It's not about giving up principles and secularizing the
Church, it's about living visibly and perceptibly what you claim to be, or what
and how you really are”.
We proclaim the Ten Commandments and “parade ourselves” as being the
custodians of moral standards/values and good behaviour in society. Hypocrites
at times? Yes! Why did we keep silent for so long? How can we turn this around
for a time to evangelise, catechise and educate all the members of the Church,
including clergy and religious? Is it true that most bishops did nothing about the
sexual abuse of children? Some did and some did not out of fear or cover-up.
We might say the Church is now taking steps to arrest the situation but also
to be more transparent about all the steps it had been taking privately over two
decades, such as meeting with victims of sexual abuse, reporting cases to the
appropriate civil authorities and setting up commissions. The question today is
more about how to address the issue of the sexual abuse of minors more directly,
transparently and courageously as a Church. The hierarchical structure and
systems in the Church should be a blessing for us to reach the whole world with
very clear mechanisms to address this and many other issues. Why has this not
happened enough? Why have other issues around sexuality not been addressed
sufficiently, e.g. misuse of power, money, clericalism, gender discrimination, the
role of women and the laity in general? Is it that the hierarchical structures and
long protocols that negatively affected swift actions focused more on media
I would like to offer some reflections based on my experience as an African
woman religious. I have lived in Rome for fifteen years and studied in America for
three. So, I am familiar with these issues in the Global North. Probably like many of
you, I have heard some Africans and Asians say, that “this is not our issue in
countries in Africa and Asia, it is the problem in Europe, the Americas, Canada and
Australia”. However, I worked throughout Nigeria in the area of sexuality education
for nine years and heard the stories and counselled many people. I realized how
serious the issues were and still are and sharing a few of my personal experiences
emphasise this fact. In the early 90s a priest told me there were sexual abuses in the
convents and formation houses and that, as president of the Nigeria Conference of
Women Religious, I should, please, do something to address the issue. A second
priest in the early 2000s said that a particular ethnic group practiced a lot of incest
but I added that from my personal experience incest is a world issue. A dying old
man revealed to me he was acting strangely because of the sexual abuse he
experienced as a teenager from the priests in his school. A thirteen-year-old girl met
her priest attacker 25 years later and he did not recognize her…
 Let us not hide such events anymore because of the fear of making mistakes.
Too often we want to keep silent until the storm has passed! This storm will
not pass by. Our credibility is at stake. Jesus told us, “Whoever causes one of
these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a
great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
(Mark 9:42). We must face this issue and seek healing for the victims of
abuse. The normal process for clergy - in the past and still in the present in
some areas - was/is to give support to ‘one of us’, to avoid exposing a
scandal and bringing discredit to the Church. All offenders, regardless of
their clerical status, found guilty should be given the same penalty for the
abuse of minors.
 Let us have courageous conversations rather than saying nothing to avoid
making a mistake. We can make a mistake but we are not created to be a
mistake and posterity will judge us for not taking action. The first step
towards true transparency is to admit wrongdoing and then to publish what
has been done since the time of Pope John Paul II to heal the situation. It
may not be sufficient in the eyes of many but it will show that the Church
had not been totally silent.
 We must build more effective and efficient processes, based on research in
human development as well as civil and canon law, for the Safeguarding of
Minors. Then clear and comprehensive safeguarding policies and guidelines
in every diocese should be placed visibly in various parish offices and
published on the internet. There must be better handling of the cases through
face-to-face, transparent and courageous conversations with both victims
and offenders, as well as investigating groups. In some parts of the world,
including countries in Africa and Asia, not saying anything is a terrible
mistake as we have seen in many countries. The fact that there are huge
issues of poverty, illness, war and violence in some countries in the Global
South does not mean that the area of sexual abuse should be downplayed or
ignored. The Church has to be pro-active in facing it.
 The excuse that respect be given to some priests by virtue of their advanced
years and hierarchical position is unacceptable. This argument states that
many of the criminal offenders are old, some no longer alive, and that we
should not hurt them or their reputations by taking away their priesthood in
old age. We can feel sad for those who, when they were younger committed
offences that are now being brought out to the open. But my heart bleeds for
many of the victims who have lived with the misplaced shame and guilt of
repeated violations for years. In some of these cases the offenders did not
even see these victims as persons but as objects.
 It is true, as a Church, that we believe in repentance of the sinner, in
conversion of hearts and the grace of transformation, “Go and from now on
do not sin any more.” says Jesus (John 8:1-11). This can create a strong
dilemma for some, especially when we know that abusers have often been
victims themselves. Do we need to probe deeply what we mean by justice
with compassion? How can we help create the environment for prayer and
discernment for the grace of God to enlighten us in the way of justice so that
transformation and healing may take place for both victims and offenders?
We would need to find out where throughout the world (not only in
wealthier countries), are the best practices for doing this being developed
and can we implement them? Many of these are to be found within the
 In publishing the names of offenders, can we publish a complete set of
information regarding these situations?
Strategic Way Forward
 It is becoming evident that for many victims being listened to and helped
psychologically and spiritually it was the beginning of a healing process.
Can we train enough sensitive and compassionate people to offer this service
in all countries including those places struggling to put food on the table?
Are there ways of helping parishes heal victims using their traditional
wisdom? Do we make use of preaching and other means to address sexual
issues in society? How might dioceses share in a strategic way in providing
culturally-sensitive education programs and training kits? Such materials,
respecting the dignity of the human persons and emphasizing unacceptable
behaviours, could be used in parishes and schools, hospitals and other places
of pastoral ministry.
 How can we continue to address in very concrete ways the issues of
prostitution and trafficking on an immense scale as well as personal infidelity
and promiscuity around the world? There must be Catholics, alongside others
with similar principles, in positions of influence in, for example, the film
industry, TV and advertising. They could be encouraged to come together and
reflect on their role in promoting a better view of the human person. Let there
be a focus on society’s disservice to men in every patriarchal culture in the
area of sexuality. Let us investigate how better to use social media to educate
people on the whole area of sexuality and human relationships.
 Essential, surely, is a clear and balanced education and training about
sexuality and boundaries in the seminaries and formation houses; in the
ongoing formation of priests, religious men and women and bishops. It
worries me when I see in Rome, and elsewhere, the youngest seminarians
being treated as though they are more special than everyone else, thus
encouraging them to assume, from the beginning of their training, exalted
ideas about their status. The study of human development must give rise to a
serious question about the existence of minor seminaries. The formation of
young women religious, too, can often lead to a false sense of superiority
over their lay sisters and brothers, that their calling is a ‘higher’ one. What
damage has that thinking done to the mission of the Church? Have we
forgotten the reminder by Vatican II in Gaudium et Spes of the universal
call to holiness? In addition, we need to ask responsible and sensitive lay
people and women religious to give true and honest evaluation of candidates
for episcopal appointments.
 Could each diocese be challenged to gather men and women of integrity:
laity, including religious, and clergy, to form a joint commission sharing
expertise about the documentary procedures and protocols, the legal and
financial implications of allegations and the necessary channels of
responsibility and accountability? A well-qualified person - lay, religious or
priests - is likely to be the best chairperson of such a group. In addition, they
need to work out how best to face the serious issues of sexual abuse already
exploding in some Asian and African countries in the same way that it has
elsewhere. Many people who were sexually abused by priests or others in
pastoral positions will suffer as traumatic memories are evoked. Some
people will be reminded that they could well be revealed as former or
current abusers or accused of covering up such facts. Many in various forms
of ministry will come across people, family members, adults and/or children,
who have been or are being abused and need to know how to respond
appropriately. Some allegations will be false which causes suffering of
another kind. The impact of damaged faith in the Church cannot be underemphasized as a large number of Catholics are and will be angry and
confused. People in positions of some authority also need to know what to
say or do in terms of response when issues get to the media.

We know that the greatest issue is the proclamation of the gospel in a way that
will touch the hearts of the young and old. We are called to proclaim the good news
but we must BE good news to the people we serve today. No wonder Pope Francis
has declared the month of October 2019 The Extra Ordinary Missionary Month.
The Church in its mission from Jesus Christ must be open to greater
transparency because we are sent to the world locally and globally. Our whole
being is not just about keeping the faith but living visibly and distinctively what we
claim to be. We are called like Jesus in his mission statement:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and anointed me to preach good news to
the poor. The Spirit has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and
recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s year
of favour”. (Luke 4:18-19)
As an indicator or postscript, I emphasise the following:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon each of us here,
has anointed all of us,
to preach good news to the poor the vulnerable, protecting especially
defenceless children, seeking justice for the victims of abuse and taking steps to
prevent this abuse from recurring,
to proclaim deliverance to the captives the perpetrators are in need of
deliverance, conversion and transformation,
and recovery of sight to the blind those who are not seeing the issues, or
focusing on protecting ‘our own’, or keeping silent or covering up need recovery
of sight, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour by taking
the necessary steps and maintaining zero tolerance with regard to sexual abuse we
will release the oppressed. This is our year of favour let us courageously take up
the responsibility to be truly transparent and accountable.
Returning to the title of this conference, another self-understanding passages
is from (Matthew 5:14-16):
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor
do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”.
I read with great interest many articles about the Pope’s reactions in the case
of the Chilean bishops – from a denial of accusations, to anger because of
deception and cover up, to the acceptance of resignations of three of the bishops. I
admire you, Brother Francis, for taking time as a true Jesuit, to discern and be
humble enough to change your mind, to apologize and take action – an example for
all of us.
Thank you, Pope Francis, for providing this opportunity for us to check and
see where we have acted strangely, ignorantly, secretly and complacently. I believe
we will change, with great determination, our total approach to reporting abuse, to
supporting the victims, to getting the right people to mentor and give support to
victims and, above all, to doing what we can to protect minors and vulnerable
adults from any form of abuse. Thank you, too, for providing women religious,
through the executive of the Union of Superiors General (UISG), an opportunity to
participate in this conference. Women have acquired a lot of useful experience to
offer in this field and have already done much to support victims and also to work
creatively on their own use of power and authority.
I hope and pray that at the end of this conference we will choose deliberately
to break any culture of silence and secrecy among us, to allow more light into our
Church. Let us acknowledge our vulnerability; be pro-active not reactive in
combating the challenges facing the world of the young and the vulnerable, and
look fearlessly into other issues of abuse in the Church and society.
May I remind all of us of Pope Francis’ own words:
“A Christian who does not move forward has an identity that is ‘not well’... The
Gospel is clear: the Lord sent them out saying: ‘go, go forward’! The Christian
walks, moves past difficulties and announces that the Kingdom of God is near”.
Thank you.
FULL TEXT Source Share from Holy See Press Office at

Female Victim of Abuse while a Child gives Testimony at Vatican Meeting against Abuse - FULL TEXT

HOLY SEE  provided working translation
Good evening. I wanted to tell you about when I was a child. But there’s no point,
because when I was 11 years old, a priest from my parish destroyed my life. Since
then I, who loved coloring books and doing somersaults on the grass, have not
Instead, engraved in my eyes, ears, nose, body and soul, are all the times he
immobilized me, the child, with superhuman strength: I desensitized myself, I held
my breath, I came out of my body, I searched desperately for a window to look out
of, waiting for it all to end. I thought: "If I don't move, maybe I won't feel anything;
if I don't breathe, maybe I could die".
When it did end, I would take back what was my wounded and humiliated body, and
I would leave, even believing I had imagined it all. But how could I, a child,
understand what had happened? I thought: "It must have been my fault!" or "Maybe
I deserved this bad thing?"
These thoughts are the worst wounds that the abuse, and the abuser, insinuates into
your heart, more than the wounds that lacerate your body. I felt I wasn’t worth
anything anymore. I felt I didn’t even exist. I just wanted to die: I tried to... but I
The abuse went on for 5 years. No one noticed.
While I did not speak, my body did: eating disorders, various periods in hospital:
everything screamed that I was sick. While I, completely alone, kept my pain to
myself. They thought I was anxious about school where, suddenly, I was performing
really badly.
Then, the first time I fell in love... My heart beating with emotion and struggling
against the same heart that palpitated remembering the horror it had experienced;
gestures of tenderness against acts of force: impossible comparisons. Awareness
becomes an unbearable reality! So as not to feel the pain, the disgust, the confusion,
the fear, the shame, the powerlessness, the impotence, my mind removed the facts
as they happened, it numbed my body by putting emotional distance between
everything I was living. And this provoked enormous damage.
When I was 26 I gave birth for the first time. Flashbacks and images brought
everything back to me. My labour was interrupted, my child was in danger;
breastfeeding was impossible because of the terrible memories that emerged. I
thought I had gone mad. So I confided in my husband, a confidence that was used
against me during our separation, when, citing the abuse I had suffered, he asked
that I be denied parental authority because I was an unworthy mother. What followed
was the patient listening of a dear friend, and the courage to write a letter to that
priest, which concluded with the promise never again to concede to him the power
of my silence.
From then, until today, I continue to go through a very difficult process of reelaboration that has no shortcuts, that requires enormous perseverance in rebuilding
my identity, dignity and faith. It is a journey undertaken mostly alone, and with the
help of a specialist, if possible. Abuse causes immediate damage, but not only that:
what is most difficult is dealing daily with that experience that attacks you, and
presents itself in the most unexpected moments. You have to live with it...forever!
All you can do, if you can, is learn how to hurt yourself less.
Inside you, there are endless questions you will never be able to answer, because
abuse makes no sense!
"Why me?" I used to ask, and not because I would have preferred it to happen to
someone else, because what I suffered would be too much for anyone else! Or:
"Where were you, God?"... How I cried over this question! I no longer trusted Man
and God, in the good Father who protects the small and the weak. As a little girl, I
was certain nothing bad could come from a man who had the “odor” of God! How
could the same hands, that had dared touch me like that, offer blessing and the
Eucharist? He was an adult and I was a child. He had taken advantage of his power
as well as his position: a true abuse of faith!
And last but not least: "How was I to overcome my anger and not leave the Church
after such an experience, especially in the face of such terrible incoherence between
what my abuser preached and what he did? And what about those who, before these
crimes, belittled, hid, silenced, or worse still, failed to defend the little ones, evilmindedly limiting themselves to moving priests so they could cause harm
somewhere else? In the face of this, we innocent victims feel the pain that killed us,
even more intensely: this too is an abuse of our human dignity, of our conscience,
as well as of our faith!
We victims, if we can find the strength to speak out or expose, must find the courage
to do so, knowing that we risk not being believed, or seeing our abuser getting away
with a small canonical penalty. This cannot and must not be the case anymore!
It took me 40 years to find the strength to speak out. I wanted to break the silence
that nourishes every form of abuse; I wanted to start again from an act of truth,
acknowledging that this act also offers an opportunity to the person who abused me.
I experienced the process of speaking out at a very high emotional cost: talking to
six very sensitive people, but all of them men, and all of them priests, was hard. I
think that the presence of a woman is a necessary and indispensable gesture in order
to welcome, listen, and accompany, us victims.
Being believed, and knowing him sentenced, gave me a reality check: that part of
me that always hoped the abuse never really happened, had to admit defeat, but at
the same time, it received a caress: now I know I am something else. I am not just
the abuse I suffered, and the scars I carry.
The Church can be proud of being able to proceed despite the statute of limitations
(a right that is denied by the Italian justice system), but not of the fact of recognizing
as a mitigating factor, for the abuser, the length of time between the offense and the
accusation (as in my case). Victim are not guilty of their silence! The trauma and
damage they suffer are all the greater the longer the period of silence: the victim
spends that time between fear, shame, denial, and a sense of helplessness. Wounds
can never be prescribed. On the contrary!
Today I am here, and together with me are all the abused boys and girls, all the
women and men, trying to be reborn from their wounds. But, above all, there are
also those who tried and did not make it. It is from here, with them in our hearts, that
we must start again, together.
FULL TEXT Source Share from Holy See Press Office at

Cardinal Marx at Meeting against Abuse "...there needs to be transparency and traceability..." FULL TEXT + Video

23 February 2019
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, President of the
German Bishops’ Conference:
Speech at the International Conference of Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences
"On the Protection of Minors in the Church"
Vatican, 23 February 2019
Transparency as a Community of Believers
Holy Father,
Your Eminences, your Excellencies,
Dear sisters and brothers,
When I speak to you today about transparency, then I do this under two
conditions. Firstly, on condition of a specific understanding of the concept of
transparency. I understand this not as the greatest possible mass of diverse,
uncoordinated information disclosed. For me, transparency means that actions,
decisions, processes, procedures, etc. are understandable and traceable. I believe
that traceability and transparency are inextricably linked.
Secondly, I speak to you about transparency in relation to traceability as a
cardinal who is German. Perhaps some of you will now immediately think: typical,
actually one cannot expect anything else. Us Germans are known for a certain
tendency towards administration, which includes these already-mentioned aspects of
traceability and transparency. Files, documents, forms, guidelines, paragraphs, lists,
procedural rules and the like - these seem to be handed down to Germans from birth,
and anyone who somehow has to do with us also seems in some way to be
confronted with all these things I have just mentioned. Some people may consider
this as a certain quirkiness, and not pay further attention to it. Others - perhaps even
the majority - may be opposed to all of this. They ask themselves seriously: Is this
administration not contrary to the dynamics of life? Is it not clear to them, that
administration puts files in focus, instead of people and their needs? Is it not true that
administration only creates additional work, and distracts from the real tasks?
I would like to address these questions with you. And don't worry - this is not
a problem just for Germans, Swiss or Americans. It is a fundamental problem,
which we all have to face together as a Church, especially and specifically
regarding appropriate handling of the topic of abuse. It is important to clarify how
much administration the Church needs. And at first glance, it seems rather that less
is required.
This assumption can be based on numerous aspects. Faith cannot be
administered. The Spirit of God cannot possibly be captured in a file or folder.
God’s love is reflected in specific acts of caring for the people, rather than in
administrative documents. Prayer is much stronger than any number of
administrative procedures. The sacraments convey true mercy, while
administration remains part of the minutiae of this world. One could enumerate
further arguments to show: administration doesn’t actually fit so well in the
Church, and can more or less be neglected. But is that really true? Let us attempt to
clarify this, by going through the following thought processes together, and
becoming conscious of: what constitutes the Church; what role should
administration play; how does administration fulfil its purpose; what must be
attended to, so that the required prerequisites are in place, and what are the
resulting tasks?
Even here, however, I cannot conceal what I am firmly convinced of, and
what I think is essential: administration within the area of responsibility of the
Church is not only a technical, specialist or functional issue. Such administration
within the Church is closely related to theological fundamentals, is theologically spiritually motivated, and closely linked with the specific actions of the Church. A fully-functional Church administration is an important building block in the fight
against abuse, and in dealing with abuse. Why this is so, in my opinion, will be
shown in the following sections.
The Church’s understanding of itself
The Church has a mission in this world. As the Dogmatic Constitution on the
Church “Lumen Gentium” says right at the beginning: “the Church is in Christ like a
sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and
of the unity of the whole human race” (LG 1). This mission is fulfilled by specific
people in specific locations under very specific conditions, which also requires
appropriate, tangible worldly means. Therefore, it is for good reason that a little
further in the text of Lumen Gentium it states: “Christ, the one Mediator, established
and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope
and charity, as an entity with visible delineation (…). But, the society structured with
hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two
realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly
Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex
reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element.” (LG 8). And it then goes
on to say: “For this reason, by no weak analogy, it [the church; RM] is compared to
the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to
Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does
the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in
the building up of the body (…).”

Briefly summarised, this means: the actions of the Church in this world
cannot be strictly and solely spiritual. Neglecting the worldly aspects of the Church
and its own laws, does not do justice to the reality of the Church. In an analogous
way, the body of Christ and the human organisation of the church must be seen
“without separation and without intermingling”. Therefore, all the basic principles
for a good society and a people-serving organisation in the life of the Church
cannot be ignored.
The purpose of administration
The worldly aspects of the Church fundamentally include that many different
people work together for the fulfilment of the Church's mission, and also require
the appropriate material resources for their respective activities. Salaries must be
paid, Church buildings maintained, parish halls constructed, cooperation
coordinated, contracts fulfilled, catechetical material printed - the list goes on and
on. But at the end of the day, all of these examples relate to one insight: In order to
fulfil all of these tasks which arise from the mission of the Church - and thereby
also the mission of the Church itself - there is a need for a fully-functional
administration, which must be oriented towards the goal of the Church, and based
on the principle of justice.
Administration standardises procedures and processes, so that it is not
necessary to seek, ask and try out how something works every time, even though
the same things need to be done repeatedly. This conserves resources, and uses
them sparingly and efficiently for the mission. Administration documents what has
been discussed, agreed and achieved; it prevents forgetfulness, and preserves
matters beyond the moment, so that reliability and fidelity to one's own word are
possible. Administration objectifies, by creating and enforcing rules and laws, and
thus helps prevent arbitrariness. This is an active contribution to justice, since
binding rules and laws ensure that decisions and judgements are not merely based
on the whims of those carrying them out, or of superiors. Administration also
orientates and sorts, by maintaining an overview of what happens, thereby
recording it and making it available. Thus, it creates order, in which the individual
can find their way, and understand or review the rationale of their own actions.
Administration regulates, and sanctions infringements against the common interest,
rules and laws, and thus acts as a counterweight to what can be commonly
described as the sinfulness of humanity. Taken overall, administration stabilises
cooperation between different people in institutions.
All that has been mentioned so far, including standardising, documenting,
objectifying, orientating and sorting - as well as regulating - is of decisive
importance for the success of joint actions, including those of the Church.
Difficulties and problems
On the basis of all this that administration accomplishes, it is powerful. What
it does or doesn’t do, has a significant impact on what can be achieved through
joint actions - or not. This power of administration can also be misused. This is the
case, for example, if administration forgets its function of serving the different
people living together and cooperating to achieve higher goals; if the
administration is only preoccupied with itself; if rules and regulations are only
used to sustain the administration or the power of persons. This is abuse of power
by the administration. What this can mean is clearly apparent at this time.
The sexual abuse of children and youths is in no small measure due to the
abuse of power in the area of administration. In this regard, administration has not
contributed to fulfilling the mission of the Church, but on the contrary, has
obscured, discredited and made it impossible. Files that could have documented
the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created.
Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on
them. The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offences were
deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden. The rights of
victims were effectively trampled underfoot, and left to the whims of individuals.
These are all events that sharply contradict what the Church should stand for. The
way in which Church administration was structured and carried out, did not
contribute to unifying the whole human race, and bringing mankind closer to God,
but on the contrary, violated these aims.
Now, at the very latest, this highlights a difficult dilemma: on the one hand,
administration is required to fulfil the mission of the Church, and on the other
hand, it can directly oppose this mission. How should this be dealt with? What do
we need to change, or pay more attention to?
Necessity of traceability and transparency
We urgently need an administration which not only contributes to fulfilling the
mission of the Church, but to some extent even embodies what should be achieved
with this mission. It must - just like the Church as a whole - not only be a tool but
also a symbol for the unification of humanity, and the unity of mankind with God. It
is not only about the functioning of administration for any purpose, but rather that
administration should take place in such a way that people feel accepted in
administrative procedures, that they feel appreciated, that they can trust the system,
that they feel secure and fairly treated, that they are listened to and their legitimate
criticism is accepted. This would go a long way towards achieving what it really
means to bring people together, and ultimately also to bring mankind closer to God -
and that is, so to speak, the theological mission of Church administration.
How important it is that Church administration functions in this way, is
clearly shown by the negative experiences in connection with the cases of abuse.
The thoughts of some abuse victims can be summarised as follows: If the Church
claims to act in the name of Jesus, yet I am treated so badly by the Church or its
administration, then I would also like to have nothing to do with this Jesus.
In order for administration to act in accordance with the Church’s mission,
and with the nature of the Church as a “symbol and instrument”, there needs to be
transparency and traceability of administrative procedures. Administrative
procedures become transparent, if it is understandable and traceable who has done
what, when, why and what for, and what has been decided, rejected or assigned.
Thus, people who experience transparent administration can uncover errors and
mistakes in the administrative actions, and defend themselves against such actions.
They can share their perspective in a binding way, and have it taken into account.
The people encountering the administration are not faced with an anonymous,
incomprehensible power structure, but can exercise self-determined control over
administrative procedures. They are not mere objects of administration, but can
perceive themselves instead as subjects. That is why the introduction of
administrative jurisdiction in the Church is very appropriate and necessary.
Objections and fears
There are no alternatives to traceability and transparency. However, there are
objections which should be considered. They are mainly directed against violations
of pontifical secrecy, as well as ruining the reputation of innocent priests or of the
priesthood and the Church as a whole through false accusations, if these are spread.
These objections to traceability and transparency are not particularly forceful.
Every objection based on pontifical secrecy would only be relevant if compelling
reasons could be shown why pontifical secrecy should apply to the prosecution of
criminal offences concerning the abuse of minors. As things stand, I know of no
such reasons.
The principles of the presumption of innocence and the protection of personal
rights, and the need for transparency, are not mutually exclusive. The opposite is
the case. On the one hand, a transparent, clearly-regulated and defined procedure
ensures that the correct steps must be taken, before those who should pass
judgement actually do so. This is the best safety mechanism against prejudices or
false judgements in the matter. On the other hand, a clearly-defined and public
procedure establishes a degree of credibility, which enables restoring the reputation
of a wrongly-accused person, who would otherwise be subjected to rumours, if the
investigation is not appropriate, transparent or conclusive.
Transparency does not mean the uncritical acceptance and undisciplined
dissemination of abuse allegations. The goal is a transparent process, which
clarifies and specifies the allegations, and follows generally accepted standards
regarding when and how the public, the authorities and the Roman Curia should be
informed. Such standard practices will make it clear that it is not transparency
which damages the Church, but rather the acts of abuse committed, the lack of
transparency, or the ensuing cover-up.
Tasks and challenges
Traceability and transparency do not simply appear out of the blue. They are a
constant task, whose fulfilment can also be aided by support from relevant experts
from outside the Church. What is decisive is always the personal attitude of those
who work in administration, and those responsible for it. In essence, it is about the
question of how far one is willing to justify one’s own actions to others, and to
some extent also be checked by others. Developing such a positive attitude, and
bringing it to bear in an appropriate manner, requires time and space for
discussion, differentiation and clarification, practice and learning. However, in
view of the urgency of the topic, the most important measures should be initiated
These may include the following:
1. Definition of the goal and the limits of pontifical secrecy:
The social changes of our time are increasingly characterised by changing
communication patterns. In the age of social media, in which each and every
one of us can almost immediately establish contact and exchange
information via Facebook, Twitter, etc., it is necessary to redefine
confidentiality and secrecy, and to distinguish them from data protection. If
we do not succeed, we either squander the chance to maintain a level of self-determination regarding information, or we expose ourselves to the
suspicion of covering up.
2. Transparent procedural norms and rules for ecclesiastical processes:
Court proceedings as legal remedies are meaningless without adequate legal
and procedural rules, as this would be tantamount to arbitrariness when it
comes to passing judgements. This would represent a lack of transparency in
relation to the specific actions. Establishing transparent procedural norms
and rules for ecclesiastical processes is essential. The Church must not
operate below the quality standards of public administration of justice, if it
doesn’t want to face criticism that it has an inferior legal system, which is
harmful to people.
3. Public announcement of statistics on the number of cases, and details
thereof, as far as possible:
Institutional mistrust leads to conspiracy theories regarding an organisation,
and the formation of myths about an organisation. This can be avoided if the
facts are set out transparently.
4. Publication of judicial proceedings:
Proper legal proceedings serve to establish the truth, and form the basis for
imposing a punishment which is appropriate for the relevant offence. In
addition, they establish trust in the organisation and its leadership. Lingering
doubts about the proper conduct of court proceedings only harm the reputation
and the functioning of an institution. This principle also applies to the Church.
If one takes a look at the other issues to be dealt with at our meeting, it is
clear that traceability and transparency are only one topic among many, to be taken
into consideration in connection with abuse prevention and dealing with abuse.
Nevertheless, one should always be aware that traceability and transparency are
also extremely important beyond the context of abuse, for example in the area of
finances. They are also a decisive factor in the trustworthiness and credibility of
the Church. Let us take a courageous step in this direction.
FULL TEXT Source Share from Holy See Press Office at

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Saturday, February 23, 2019 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr
Lectionary: 340

Reading 1HEB 11:1-7

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Responsorial PsalmPS 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11

R. (see 1)  I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

AlleluiaSEE MK 9:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 9:2-13

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
then from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Then they asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him.”