· Pope Francis calls for the close and collaboration of bishops and religious superiors and underlines the priority to avoid scandal and make the Church a safe home ·
“Everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused”. Pope Francis asked this of the bishops and superiors of religious orders in a letter sent to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors which is meeting from 6-8 February.
According to the Pontiff, families “need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children” and they must have the “right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home”. The Pope then said “priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal”. “There is absolutely no place”, he affirmed, “in ministry for those who abuse minors”.
In this sense, Francis recommended that episcopal conferences draw up “guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics” and to establish “a practical means for periodically reviewing their norms and verifying that they are being observed”. He entrusted priests and religious with the special task of ascertaining “that the safety of minors and vulnerable adults is assured in parishes and other Church institutions”, providing also “programmes for pastoral care” and being “available to meet with victims and their loved ones”. Above all, however, the Pope called for “close and complete cooperation” with the Commission which is a “new, important and effective means for helping me to encourage and advance the commitment of the Church at every level – Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and others – to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy”.
St. Peter’s Square
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