Pope shares survivor’s letter

survivors letter

A female survivor of abuse by a priest has written to seminarians imploring them to become good priests and to make sure the “bitter truth” always prevails.

The letter, written in Italian, was sent to Pope Francis who requested it be made public with the author’s identity withheld.

“Please, do not sweep things under the carpet because then they start to stink, putrefy, and the rug itself will rot away. Let us realize that if we hide these facts, when we keep our mouths shut, we hide the filth, and we thus become a collaborator,” said the adult survivor in the letter.

“To live in the truth is to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who never closed his eyes to sin or the sinner, but who “lived the truth with love … (who) indicated the sin and the sinner with bitter love,” the letter said.

US Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said, “During this time of renewal and pastoral conversion in which the church is facing the scandal and wounds of sexual abuse inflicted everywhere upon so many children of God, our Holy Father received from a survivor a courageous testimony offered to all seminarians.”

By sharing this testimony publicly, “Pope Francis wants to welcome the voices of all wounded people and to show all priests who proclaim the Gospel the path that leads to authentic service of God to the benefit of all vulnerable people,” the cardinal wrote in an introduction to the letter posted on the commission’s website.

In the letter, the woman explained how she was harmed for years as a girl by a priest, leaving her with many serious mental health issues. This includes dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares and a pervasive sense of fear — of others, of making mistakes, of being touched.

“I am afraid of priests, of being near them,” she wrote. She can no longer go to Mass because this “sacred space” that used to be her second home now only triggers pain and fear.

She said she is trying to “survive, to feel joy, but in reality, it is an incredibly difficult battle.”

“I am here also in the name of other victims … of children who have been deeply harmed, whose childhood, purity and respect have been stolen … who were betrayed and whose boundless trust was taken advantage of … of children whose hearts beat, who breathe, who live … but they have been killed once, twice, many times. … Their souls have been turned into tiny bloody pieces,” she wrote.



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