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Read Pope Francis’ letter on sexual abuse: ‘We abandoned the little ones’

Read Pope Francis’ letter on sexual abuse: ‘We abandoned the little ones’

Pope Francis

Pope Francis broke his silence on a grand jury investigation into sexual abuse scandals in Pennsylvania.

A report released last week implicated 300 ‘predator priests’ in six of the eight Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.

Today (20 August), the Vatican released a letter from Pope Francis addressing the report for the first time.

Pope Francis opens the letter with a Bible verse: ‘”If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26).’

‘These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons,’ the letter continues.

‘With shame and repentance’

Pope Francis writes that ‘most of these cases belong to the past’ but the pain continues.

‘We have realized that these wounds never disappear,’ he explains. ‘They require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away.

‘The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands.’

Ultimately, he acknowledges the way the Church failed young victims.

‘With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.

‘We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.’

Standing together

‘The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way,’ the letter eventually continues.

‘Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.’

Pope Francis believes the answer is for the Church as a whole and its members to undergo a ‘conversion’.

Read the letter in full here.

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