Pope writes to Catholics in Chile about clergy sex abuse

Pope Francis has written a letter to Catholics in Chile about the church’s response to clergy sex abuse victims.

Addressing the eight-page letter to the “People of God” in Chile, Francis thanked survivors for their “courageous perseverance” for speaking out.

He said he is ashamed of the Church’s failure to listen to victims, and urged all the baptised to make a commitment to ending the culture of abuse and cover-up.

The Catholic church will never again ignore victims or cover up their complaints, he vowed.

The victims’ cries had “reached heaven” he said.

At the start of the letter, Francis said he had asked for the Chilean bishops (with whom he met in mid-May) to ask the whole church to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

“I invited the bishops to look to where the Holy Spirit is moving us, since ‘closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God'”, he wrote.

“With joy and hope I received the news that there were many communities, towns and chapels where the People of God were praying, especially the days we were gathered together with the bishops …”.

Admitting the Church’s “shame” for not listening to the victims, Francis said he wanted to place the focus on ordinary believers who will be the salvation and renewal of the church.

He said this is not a token gesture, but acknowledges a church leadership cut off from the people is a “perversion” of ecclesiastical structures.

“Every time it tries to replace, silence, ignore or downsize to small elites the Church is left without a body, and ultimately without life,” he said.

The Church’s lack of knowledge about how to listen to the victims is a big problem, Francis noted.

Because of this lack, “partial conclusions were drawn which lacked crucial elements for a healthy and clear discernment. With shame I must say that we did not know how to listen and react in time”.

After meeting with victims, Francis says he noted how “the lack of recognition/listening to their stories, as well as the recognition/acceptance of the errors and omissions in the entire process, impedes us from making headway.

“Recognition ought to be more than an expression of goodwill toward the victims”.

It ought to be “a new way to for us to adopt a new attitude before life, before others and before God”.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: ,