Church leadership not delivering – victims left wounded

In what some call a scathing statement, the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors blasted Church leadership for not delivering on sexual abuse prevention outcomes.

The Commission is condemning Church leadership for its glaring failures to prevent abuse.

Established by Pope Francis in 2014, the commission has pledged to push church authorities for more decisive measures.

The statement made public on 27 September underscores the commission’s escalating concern over the “anguish and pain of a terrible betrayal” felt by victims of abuse.

It indicts not only the abusers but also a Church that has been “unable or even unwilling” to confront the severity of its own actions.

“Each day reveals fresh cases of abuse, cover-ups and poor handling by Church authorities worldwide,” the commission said, adding that they are profoundly disturbed by the conduct of individuals holding responsible roles within the Church.

The comments come just a few days before Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality begins in Rome.

The Commission is calling for action and making an urgent plea for the upcoming Synod on Synodality to dedicate substantial time to discussing sexual abuse within the Church.

“We insist that the issue of sexual abuse be at the forefront of your discussions on teaching, ministry, formation and governance,” the commission declared in its “Call to Action.”

The commission has laid out three critical priorities for the Church:

  • Strengthened solidarity with victims and survivors
  • Amplified commitment and resources for safeguarding initiatives
  • Making safeguarding a pivotal issue in synod discussions

“The sexual abuse crisis cuts to the very core of the synod’s agenda,” the commission stressed.

“It infiltrates discussions on leadership models, ministerial roles and professional standards of behaviour.”

The commission has a list of goals, including an outline of several pressing objectives for the Church, by:

  • Being a place of welcome, empathy and reconciliation for those impacted by abuse and a strong advocate “against the endemic complacency of those in the church and society that silence these testimonies, minimize their significance and stifle hope for renewal”
  • Taking “full account and full responsibility for the wrongs done to so many in its care”
  • Protecting all children with “appropriate safety policies and procedures, ones that are known and verified”
  • Having well-run, “transparent and accessible systems of redress for wrongdoing by the church’s ministers”
  • Implementing and taking responsibility for “robust safeguarding” in dioceses, parishes, schools, hospitals, retreat centres, houses of formation and everywhere the church is present and active.

The commission insisted that these goals should be a continuous focus for the Synod on Synodality and not just a topic for brief consideration.

“We urge synod attendees to work towards these goals throughout the entire synod process” the statement concluded.

The commission also said that “recent publicly reported cases point to tragically harmful deficiencies in the norms intended to punish abusers and hold accountable those whose duty is to address wrongdoing.

“We are long overdue in fixing the flaws in procedures that leave victims wounded and in the dark both during and after cases have been decided” it said, adding that the commission will continue to study what is not working and to press for necessary changes.



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