Friday 27th 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:

Cardinal Burke says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’

LifeSiteNews: Since the extraordinary synod on the family, we have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion over several “hot-button” issues: communion for divorced and “remarried” couples, a change of attitude towards homosexual unions and an apparent relaxing of attitudes…Continue Reading

Bishop backs Catholic school’s removal of teacher over pro-marriage Facebook comments: cites Pope Francis

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school has decided not to rehire a theology teacher who rejected the argument in favor of gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page, her family has announced. The controversy began last…Continue Reading

Creepy Catholicism.

Martin O’Malley is the latest Catholic politician to come out as a duplicitous “Catholic.” Deacon Kandra posts an excerpt here from an interview in which O’Malley displays some amazingly twisted thinking to support homosexual marriage–even though he’s a Catholic. As far…Continue Reading

Polish Bishops’ Conference rejects Holy Communion for divorced and “remarried”

The Polish Bishops’ Conference has issued a communiqué firmly rejecting the proposals that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life. The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement: “In view of the…Continue Reading

Celtic Catholic priest and friends pile on archbishop

On Monday March 16, KALW radio’s City Visions will host a program “Can Bay Area Catholics and Archbishop Cordileone find Common Ground?” Scheduled guests are the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto; Most Holy Redeemer parishioner and teachers’ union representative Ted DeSaulnier; and…Continue Reading

The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment

A group of Catholic publishers recently issued a joint statement urging an end to capital punishment. I have great respect for all of them – I have written for all of them at one point or another. I disagree with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Pope Is Not Above the Word of God and the Catholic Faith

Edit: Rorate tends to understate things.  They want a sober response.  We’d like to offer this translation of Giuseppe Nardi’s appreciation of their take on Cardinal Müller’s recent letter appearing in the Osservatore Romano and additional commentary from other important Italian…Continue Reading

Is the Synod Secretariat Stacking the Deck Again?

The Vatican today announced that the vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family will be a consulter to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Professor José Granados‘ appointment,…Continue Reading

Gay activist: Of course our goal is to ‘indoctrinate children into LGBTQ agenda’

TORONTO, March 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A homosexual activist has candidly admitted that gay-themed materials and policies pushed in grade schools across North America are for the sake of “indoctrinating” children into an unquestioning acceptance of homosexuality. “I am here…Continue Reading

Pope . . . giving holy Communion to remarried divorcees “won’t solve anything”

On the second anniversary of his pontificate, the Holy Father gave a lengthy interview to a Mexican television journalist. – CNA/Bohumil Petrik VATICAN CITY — In a new, wide-ranging interview published Friday on the second anniversary of his election, Pope…Continue Reading

Cardinal rebukes head of German bishops: We can’t ignore Christ’s teaching on marriage

German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, who headed the Papal Council Cor Unum until 2010 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has publicly opposed the words and direction of the German Bishops’ Conference. In a Letter to the…Continue Reading

Catholic dissenters’ convention keynoter: A pornographic sex columnist?

Seattle, Wash., Mar 12, 2015 / 02:31 am (CNA).- Dan Savage coordinates an annual pornography festival. He has made obscene tirades about Pope Benedict XVI, denigrated the practice of monogamy, insulted high school students and publicly harassed politicians he opposes.…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 . . .

The exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin

pope741

(Vatican Radio/VIS) A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office on Wednesday to present the upcoming exhibition of the Holy Shroud of Turin (Turin, 19 April – 24 June 2015), on the occasion of the second centenary of the birth of St. John Bosco, which will be specially dedicated to the young and to those who suffer. The Pope will also make a pilgrimage to Turin from 21 to 22 June. The…Continue Reading

Pope calls for renewed prayers for Synod on the Family

(Vatican Radio) At a rain-soaked General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for renewed prayers for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in the Family. After meeting briefly with a group of sick people gathered in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square. The Pope began his reflection by noting that March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, marks a special stage in the journey of catechesis on the family, a…Continue Reading

Pope: “Where There Is No Mercy There Is No Justice”

pope740

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday warned against righteous hypocrisy and urged Christians to be merciful. During his homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the Gospel readings of the day and on another Gospel passage pointing out that “where there is no mercy there is no justice”. Referring to three women in the Bible, Pope Francis said they represent three allegorical figures of the Church. The women he…Continue Reading

Pope calls on Christians to express their faith in action

pope512

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says the lives of Christians must be coherent and express faith in action. Speaking to the crowds gathered in a rainy St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope invited all believers to always bear in mind the message of the Gospel, the image of the Crucified Lord, and the need to be witnesses of faith. Calling on Christians to express their faith in action, the Pope also turned to…Continue Reading

What If Hillary Doesn’t Care?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by foreign agents when she was the secretary of state? What if persons claiming to have done so are boasting about their alleged feats on Internet websites and in chat rooms traditionally associated with illegal or undercover activities? What if this is the sore…Continue Reading

In Defense Of Economic Freedom

By JOHN YOUNG I believe in complete economic freedom. An extreme position, it will be said, and one not only against Catholic social teaching, but also against common sense. It implies, surely, that I have a heartless disregard for the vulnerable, or at least a naive trust in capitalism — the unrestrained capitalism that Pope…Continue Reading

Some Thoughts About Catholic Care Homes . . . The Old, Weak, And Suffering Are In The Forefront Of Our Spiritual Battle

By PHILIP TROWER (Editor’s Note: Philip Trower, The Wanderer’s longtime correspondent from the United Kingdom, recently moved into a care home. The home’s superior, Sr. Hannah, asked him to write about why he chose to move into Nazareth House. Below is his letter to her.) + + + Dear Sr. Hannah, As I understand it,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “What Does The Church Teach About Sterilization?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995.) + + + Some people refer to sexual sterilization as “Catholic birth control.” This erroneous term, and the misguided assertions of a number of well-known dissenters, has led to significant confusion regarding the Catholic Church’s…Continue Reading

Will The GOP Kick It Away?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN With Hillary Clinton scrambling to explain her missing emails, much of America is wailing, “Please don’t make us watch this movie again!” Why, then, would the Republican Party, with a chance to sweep it all in 2016, want to return us to the nightmare days of George W., which caused America…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

Message From Cardinal Burke

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

We Have Been Raised With Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Easter Sunday (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Peter and John entering the Lord’s grave after they had been informed by St. Mary Magdalen that Jesus had been taken away. We are told that when the Beloved Disciple saw the burial cloths there and…Continue Reading

Nothing To Toast Between China And The Vatican

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: Fr. Bernardo Cervellera is a member of PIME [Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere], a society of apostolic life. He is the editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, a news service of PIME. (In the essay below, Fr. Cervellera noted China’s willingness, at least in words, “to enter into dialogue with the Vatican,” but decried its refusal “to compromise…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Why My Parish Is Facing “East” Together This Lent

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The futile closed circle of therapeutic naval-gazing hangs on like an overused joke in a few places still, one of them being the Church. The priest and people facing each other during the entire liturgy is a vestige of the illegitimate seizure and subjection of 2,000-year-old liturgical development by primitivist vandals in the post-Vatican period.…Continue Reading

Is Mary The Mother Of God . . . Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics: On the day of the Annunciation and the Incarnation, the Archangel St. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19), inspired by the Holy Spirit, said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with…Continue Reading

God Comes To Meet Man

By DON FIER Last week, a topic was taken up that was immediately addressed in the first chapter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): man’s capacity to know God by reason alone. It was demonstrated in two basic, commonsense ways that “by natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of His works” (CCC, n.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Faustina And Divine Mercy

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Divine Mercy Chaplet had never been one of my favorite devotions until my aunt died. As she lay in the hospital during her final hours, I sat in the room, visiting with the endless stream of visitors who stopped in to see their fellow volunteer. By six o’clock, the room was quiet. I decided to read…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Of God

By CAROLE BRESLIN In our time, it is common to hear parents bemoan the fact that their child is impulsive, or strong-willed, or irresponsible. Even the Holy Family suffered when our Lord, at the age of twelve, stayed behind in the Temple. How Mary and Joseph must have agonized over the missing Child Jesus. How do you tell God you…Continue Reading