In a wide-ranging address culminating a Vatican summit, Pope Francis has called for an “all-out battle against the abuse of minors, both sexually and in other areas.”
He said the time has come to collectively “work together to eradicate the evil” of child abuse.
“The time has come to find a correct equilibrium of all values in play and to provide uniform directives for the Church, avoiding the two extremes of a ‘justicialism’ provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure, and a defensiveness that fails to confront the causes and effects of these grave crimes.”
He noted that the church has the mandate to ensure that children are properly nurtured and cared for wherever they are located.
He posited the view that “the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by little ones.”
He noted the gravity of the situation and the difficulty in grasping “the real extent of the phenomenon,” given that sexual abuse often goes unreported, “particularly the great number committed within families.”
He opined that what has emerged from data available is that “those who perpetrate abuse that is acts of physical, sexual, or emotional violence, are primarily parents, relatives, husbands of child brides, coaches, and teachers.”
The Pope concludes that the situation is a tragic problem and one that is widespread and moreover, negatively impacts societies worldwide.
“We are thus facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere, and affecting everyone.” “Yet we need to be clear,” he added, “that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the Church.”
Indeed, “the brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the graver and more scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.”
The Church, Pope Francis said, “feels called to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of her mission, which is to preach the Gospel to the little ones and to protect them from ravenous wolves”. He insists, “if in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse – which already in itself represents an atrocity – that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness.”
Barbara Greene, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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