Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Anglophone Conference On Sexual Abuse . . . “The Entire Church Is Called To Put Right What Has Happened”

July 23, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By MOST REV. DIARMUID MARTIN

ROME (ZENIT) — Below is the full text of an address given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on the issue of clerical sex abuse. The address was given July 7 at the Anglophone Conference, which took place at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.
The Anglophone Conference takes place annually and its purpose is to address relevant issues concerning the abuse of children and adults at risk.
“The greatest harm that we could do to the progress that has been made right across the Church is to slip back into a false assurance that the crisis is a thing of the past,” said Archbishop Martin.
ZENIT News Agency provided the text of this speech. All rights reserved.

+    +    +

The Anglophone Conference is a unique gathering. It is unique in the first place in that it does not have a website, almost a mortal sin of omission by today’s conference standards! The Anglophone Conference is an informal gathering, by its nature unstructured or at least under-structured. And indeed that may well be its advantage.
The origins of the Anglophone Conference lie in an interest which arose among bishops from a number of English-speaking countries to come together informally to share experiences about how to address the problem of the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious. It was an attempt to take a more coherent look at a phenomenon which, because it was an unspeakably dark part of the life of the Church, inevitably gave rise to the temptation that it be kept out of the limelight.
The result was often that the challenge of abuse was not addressed or was addressed in different ways in different parts of the word. In the Anglophone Conference, bishops came together to begin to trace a different path.
The Anglophone Conference may well have been from the start under-structured, but in time it became a real workshop of best practice, in which episcopal conferences could come together and explore what were the best ways of breaking taboos about the subject of child abuse by clergy and of developing solid norms of pastoral practice which could be addressed by bishops conferences in different cultural and juridical situations.
The Anglophone Conference was pioneering and trend-setting. In these days we have come together to hear success stories of progress that has been made worldwide. We are pleased to hear from those working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the standards of good practice that are now rightly being demanded throughout the entire Church.
But it is important to remember that the Anglophone Conference was a pioneer in looking for coherent international norms and in anticipating much that has now become commonplace, at times facing negative reactions even within the Holy See. Today we have moved beyond any climate of suspicion to one of cooperation and we thank God for the progress that has been made on all sides.
We also thank God for our ability to recognize that the road that we all still have to travel is long. The greatest harm that we could do to the progress that has been made right across the Church is to slip back into a false assurance that the crisis is a thing of the past.
The Anglophone Conference is a unique event. It is not a conference of canonists or survivors, of psychologists or criminologists; it is not a simply gathering of bishops. It is a forum for creative pastoral reflection, it is a gathering in which a wide-ranging group of men and women from different backgrounds and countries try to draw conclusions regarding our responsibilities in addressing what has been a major crisis and stumbling block for the Catholic Church.
The crisis of the sexual abuse of children in the Church is not a chapter of the past history of the Church. Abuse can and does still take place. Abuse will remain a wound in the side of the Church until the day on which every single survivor of abuse has achieved the personal healing he or she deserves.
My starting point in any personal reflection on the scandal of sexual abuse is always that what happened should never have happened in the Church of Jesus Christ. We can argue that the sexual abuse of children takes place right across society and that it is unfair to single out the Catholic Church. We can regurgitate statistics which will tell us that the incidence of such abuse is not significantly higher within the Catholic clergy than in society. But if we come back and repeat to ourselves that what happened should never have happened in the Church of Jesus Christ then we have to put all the comforting statistics to one side and begin to think in a different light.
The sexual abuse of children on the scale in which it happened should never have occurred in the Catholic Church because Jesus himself tells us that children are a sign of the kingdom of God. This means that our understanding of faith and of the kingdom is somehow measured in the manner in which we protect and respect and cherish children or in which we fail children. We know well the strong words of Jesus about those who would injure or harm children.
We need to develop a new awareness that what has happened has wounded the entire Church and that now the entire Church is called to put right what has happened. The entire Church is called to put itself right in its relations with the kingdom and with Jesus Christ. Healing is not just a question for the counselors; it is a theological and ecclesiological necessity.
The only Church response must be one which attempts to bring healing to a wounded Church through robustly responding to all those who have been wounded by abuse. The healing of the Church comes through how the Church works to heal survivors.
The Church must not just be transformed into a place where children are safe. It must also be transformed into a privileged place of healing for survivors. It must be transformed into a place where survivors, with all their reticence and with all their repeated anger toward the Church, can genuinely come to feel that the Church is a place where they will encounter healing. We are not that kind of Church yet: and by far.
The Church which talks about a preferential option for the poor must show unflinchingly a preferential option for those who have been victims of abuse within its fold. There are still within the Church some who play down the realities of abuse, or who take short cuts with regard to established norms and guidelines. In doing so, they damage the Church’s witness to the healing power of Jesus Christ. There is nothing more hurtful to survivors than to find the Church proclaiming norms and then to find that they are not being followed. I was struck to read in some of the national reports for this conference that there are still dioceses or religious congregations which opt out of national norms.
The Church can and should ensure adequate counseling for victims and their families. But it must do more. Healing cannot be delegated. The Church must become the bosom of Christ which lovingly embraces wounded men and women, with all the brutality and unattractiveness of wounds. Wounds cannot be sanitized from a distance. The Good Samaritan is the one who carries the wounded man in his own arms.
Bishops and superiors have to ensure that survivors are made to feel truly welcome when they turn to Church authorities. One survivor told me that while she was received by her local priest correctly, in the sense that all the boxes of the norms were correctly ticked, she still had the enduring impression that the priest would have much preferred that she had not come to him and that she we would go away as quickly as possible and that the counselors would take over.

Go Beyond Human Prudence

The words of Jesus about leaving the ninety-nine to go out to find the one who is lost refers also to our attitude to victims. To some it might seem less than prudent to think that the Church would go out of its way to seek out even more victims and survivors. There are those who say that that would only create more anguish and litigation and that it would be asking for trouble and would be more than a little ingenuous. The problem is that what Jesus says about leaving the ninety and going out after the one who is lost is in itself unreasonable and imprudent, but, like it or not, that it precisely what Jesus asks us to do.
Jesus teaches us through parables that are all marked by exaggeration. They are all about something that we can never figure out within our own human categories: the gratuitousness and superabundance of God’s love which always requires us to go the extra mile beyond what is humanly considered as prudent or appropriate or even the best. It is, however, when we reflect that superabundant love of God in the way we live in the Church that we also see fruits produced which go beyond human expectation.
Remember those twelve baskets of food which remain after Jesus had undertaken the humanly unreasonable task of feeding a large crowd with meager means. Jesus’ generosity goes way beyond human prudence.
We have to reach out to all those who are involved in abuse. We have a responsibility toward perpetrators to bring them to a realization of what they have done and to make reparation through living a different life. Jesus is the one who shows mercy, but not cheap forgiveness. Careful monitoring and support of perpetrators is a contribution to creating a safe environment for children within the Church as well as helping perpetrators to lead more healthy lives.
Our care must also reach out to the many who may seem only to have been marginally touched by abuse. I think of parish communities. I spent an evening only last week with a small parish community whose priest had recently been imprisoned for serious abuse. It was a community whose trust in themselves and in the Church had been deeply wounded.
Our care must reach out in a special way to our young people who are hypersensitive to any contrast between what the Church preaches and what is done within its walls. Many young people have been wounded in their ability to come to know Jesus because of their disgust at what has happened to children in the Church.
The answers to all these multiple wounds will not come from slick public relations gestures or even from repeated words of apology. They will come from creating a new vision of a healing Church. A healing Church will not be from the outset a perfect Church. The Church must first of all recognize within her own life how compromise and insensitivity and wrong decisions have damaged the witness of Church.
The art of healing is learned only in humility. Arrogance is never the road toward healing. Healing is not something we can package and hand over safe and sound to someone else and then we can go off safely and happily on our own way. Healing involves journeying together. The healer needs humility and personal healing if he or she is to journey really with those who are wounded. The duration of the process of healing is not measured by the time on our watch, but by the watch and the time of the other.

Learning From Survivors

The crisis of the sexual abuse of children over these past decades has wounded the Church of Jesus Christ. The response must come from the entire Church which will only attain the healing it desires when it welcomes our brothers and sisters who have survived abuse as Jesus would have welcomed them. We are not there to tell the survivors what they have to do, but together to find new ways of interacting with respect and care.
I can say that I have never gone away from a conversation with a survivor of child sexual abuse without having learned something new, even if our encounter may have been marked by anger and aggression toward the Church.
My ministry has greatly benefited from what I have learned — and at times learned in a hard way — from survivors. That is why I ask not just their forgiveness for what happened to them, but I am grateful to them for what they have done for me.

+    +    +

(© 2014 Innovative Media Inc.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Catholic Schools Should Be Catholic, Even in San Francisco

Archbishop Cordileone is predictably blasted for a commonsense policy. If you care to learn how thin our conception of religious liberty has become, look to the Bay Area. In early February, San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone released a statement “regarding…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: CARDINAL BURKE INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

burk10

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed Raymond Cardinal Burke via telephone on numerous topics. Nothing was off the table for this interview and His Eminence was incredibly generous with his time. He showed himself to be brilliant and yet filled with…Continue Reading

Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the…Continue Reading

Oil company hit man has Archbishop Cordileone in his sights

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 27, 2015 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sam Singer’s public relations firm spun a Chevron oil refinery disaster in California and fought back a legal ruling in Ecuador that could have awarded billions of dollars to…Continue Reading

What about Henry VIII?

Interestingly, Jesus’ hard teaching that “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) follows not long after his insistence to Peter on the necessity of forgiveness (see Mt 18:21–35). It is true that Jesus did…Continue Reading

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance

Fr. Bob (that’s what we’ll call him) was a faithful parish priest for more than 25 years. One day, a process server showed up at the rectory door and handed him a summons and complaint. The complaint alleged that some…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Save Students from Pornography Epidemic, Says Counseling Expert

Catholic colleges and universities owe it to their students to do everything within their power to help combat the destructive effects of pornography, argued Dr. Peter Kleponis in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Kleponis, a licensed clinical…Continue Reading

Imagine: A Catholic Archbishop!

If it weren’t so predictable, it would be infuriating, but because of that, it is infuriating to thinking people. It’s happening again as San Francisco drops the hammer – again – on the Catholic Church and especially Archbishop Cordileone. He’s…Continue Reading

As storm brews, San Fran archbishop strikes back at school guideline critics

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 20, 2015 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Politicians have targeted San Francisco Catholic schools’ teacher standards, but Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says they are a matter of Catholic mission and common sense. “Would you hire a campaign…Continue Reading

University of Scranton to end all abortion coverage

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The University of Scranton plans to end employee health care coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The Times-Tribune of Scranton (http://bit.ly/1JstU9i ) reports Thursday that the…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Scandals under Fr. Jenkins Are Rooted in Diminished Catholic Faculty, Alumni Say

February 20, 2015, at 11:02 AM  |  By Kimberly Scharfenberger  | Following the election of University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. to his third term, Notre Dame alumni spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to share their…Continue Reading

Cardinal Napier: African Bishops Have Higher Priorities Than Communion for Divorced and Remarried

by CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/19/2015 Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct. 14, 2014. – Bohumil Petrik/CNA ROME — A leading African cardinal says the continent’s bishops want the upcoming Vatican synod to zero in on strengthening…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: Jesus reveals himself, as the perfect icon of the Father

(Vatican Radio) Before the Angelus the Pope recalled Sunday’s Gospel on the Transfiguration in which Jesus “is at the peak of his public ministry. The Holy Father explained that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the ‘Servant of God’ will be fulfilled. The crowds, he added, facing the prospect of a Messiah that does not fit their earthly expectations, abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a liberator…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Judge Not

pope730

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that “we are all sinners” – not “in theory” but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is “a Christian…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Prayers for Syria, Iraq and Venezuela

pope276

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday remembered the people of Syria and Iraq saying “Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news about violence, kidnapping and harassment against Christians reaching us from Syria and Iraq. The Pope went on to say that those facing these situations were not forgotten and prayed that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims would soon be at an end.  …Continue Reading

Pope Francis at the close of the Spiritual Exercises – With a piece of Elijah’s mantle

2015-02-27 L’Osservatore Romano The meditations this morning, Friday 27 February, in Ariccia were the last of the Spiritual Exercises in which the Pontiff and members of the Roman Curia participated. Meditations were led by Carmelite, Fr Bruno Secondin, in the chapel of the House of Divin Maesto belonging to the Pauline Fathers. At the end of his reflection Friday morning, Pope Francis wanted to thank the preacher. “On behalf of everyone, myself included,” the Pope…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “Birth Control For Teens Who Are ‘Doing It Anyway’?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + If pressed, many “family planners” admit that, in an ideal world, all young people would…Continue Reading

Virginia Parish Calls On Catholics . . . Join In An “Affirmation Of Faith” To Pope Francis

By LISA BOURNE FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — A Virginia Catholic parish is publicly affirming Church teaching on marriage and its fidelity to the Church, while at the same time calling on Pope Francis to proclaim and defend the same. In the wake of the October Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, St. John…Continue Reading

Egalitarian Chess

By DONALD DeMARCO A high school principal, let us imagine, who is thoroughly devoted to political correctness, summoned the school’s chess coach into his office. In that venue the following conversation took place. P: I think it is time to bring the game of chess into the 21st century. C: But chess is a timeless…Continue Reading

What If The Government Fears Freedom?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of…Continue Reading

Our Lady And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This article will look at the importance of the modern Marian apparitions, and particularly Fatima, and in this regard, this is what the Church, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 67) says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Root Of Faith Crisis In Rupture Between Life And Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Quite a few years ago, I went hiking in the Alps on the border between Italy and France with a group of reformed drug addicts and their family members. One father brought his two sons who observed my delight as I ran up to the snow line ahead of the group and collected fresh snow…Continue Reading

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. As a longtime subscriber to The Wanderer, I am puzzled that your writers don’t hesitate to criticize and disagree with bishops and cardinals on particular issues, but when it comes to the Pope you automatically close shop, yet he is human just like the bishops and cardinals. There is no teaching in our Church that says one cannot disagree…Continue Reading

God’s “Foolishness” Is Wisdom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sunday Sermon for March 8, 2015 Third Sunday Of Lent (YR B) Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25 John 2:13-25 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about our Lord cleansing the Temple because the people had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The people, naturally, were appalled at this action because the buying and selling…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Seville

By CAROLE BRESLIN Spain is one of two countries located on the Iberian Peninsula. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was the Romans who first called this land “Hispania.” To this land the Romans brought the Latin language, civil organization, and law, as well as the Christian religion. However, as the Roman Empire began to crumble during the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustus Chapdelaine

By CAROLE BRESLIN Christianity has never been warmly welcomed by the authorities in China, but that did not stop the missionaries over the centuries who have gone there to save souls. Christianity has existed in various forms since the Tang Dynasty (eighth century). The first reports of Catholic priests going to China go back to the 13th century. John of…Continue Reading