Pope introduces new law – the moment of reparation

Making reparation to clergy sex abuse survivors is critical, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on Friday.

“The sexual abuse of minors by clergy and its poor handling by Church leaders has been one of the greatest challenges for the Church in our time.

“Now is the time to repair the damage done to previous generations and to those who continue to suffer.”

It also undermines the Church’s ability “to fully embrace and bear witness to God’s liberating presence.”

This “has sullied our witness to God’s love,” he said.

The new law

To address the Church’s failure to act properly, Francis confirmed the decree “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” is now a universal law of the Catholic Church.

Among other things, it requires every diocese to “set aside places for receiving accusations and caring for those who report that they have been harmed.

“No one today can honestly claim to be unaffected by the reality of sexual abuse in the church,” Francis told the Commission.

Three reparation principles

Francis asked the Commission to bear in mind three principles and to “consider them as part of a spirituality of reparation.”

First: Keep in mind God’s creative power

“Where harm was done … we are called to keep in mind God’s creative power to make hope emerge from despair and life from death. The terrible sense of loss … as a result of abuse can sometimes seem a burden too heavy to bear.

“Church leaders who share a sense of shame for their failure to act, have suffered a loss of credibility, and our very ability to preach the Gospel has been damaged.

“Persevere and keep moving forward!”

Second: Heal the broken

“Our lives are not meant to remain divided. What is broken must not stay broken.”

Abuse survivors have told him being “heard and believed” helped restore their sense of hope.

He asked the Commission to “help put pieces back together, in the hope that what is broken can be repaired.”

Third: Mirror God

Francis encouraged the Commission “to cultivate an approach that mirrors the respect and kindness of God himself.

“Be gentle in your actions, bearing one another’s burdens (cf. Gal 6:1-2), without complaining, but considering that this moment of reparation for the Church will give way to a further moment in the history of salvation.”

Respect for everyone’s dignity, for right conduct and a sound way of life must become a universal rule, independent of people’s culture, economic and social condition, Francis said.

“All the Church’s ministers must respect this rule in the way they serve the faithful, and they in turn must be treated with respect and dignity by those who lead the community.

“A culture of safeguarding will take root only if there is a pastoral conversion in this regard among the Church’s leaders.”

Addressing inequality

Francis encouraged the Commission’s “plans for addressing inequalities within the Church through training and assistance to victims in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“In these, the Church must seek to be a model of acceptance and good practice,” he said.


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