Father Lombardi's Statement on Abuse Scandals

The Church’s Commitment Has “Not Been Weakened but Confirmed”

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of a commentary by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of Vatican Radio, who spoke on the air Saturday about recent sexual abuse scandals. Father Lombardi is also the director of the Vatican press office.

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The issue of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy continues to be widely presented by the media in many countries, especially in Europe and North America even in recent days, after the publication of the Pope’s letter to Irish Catholics. It is no surprise. The question is of such a nature that by itself it draws the media’s attention, and the way that the Church faces it is crucial for her moral credibility.

In reality, the cases brought to the public’s attention occurred some time ago, even decades ago, but recognizing them and making amends in regard to the victims is the price of the reestablishment of justice and of that “purification of memory” that permits one to look with renewed commitment together with humility and confidence to the future. Numerous positive signs from the different bishops’ conferences, individual bishops and Catholic institutions of various countries on different continents contribute to this confidence: The directives for the correct handling and prevention of abuses have been reemphasized, updated and renewed in Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada, etc.

In particular good news comes from the 7th annual report on the application of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the Church in the United States. Without indulging in a satisfaction that would be out of place, one cannot but recognize the extraordinary effort of prevention accomplished with numerous courses of formation and training both for young people and for all pastoral and educational personnel, and it must be recognized that the number of accusations of abuse has fallen by 30%, most having to do with incidents that occurred more than 30 years ago. Without entering into other details, it must be admitted that the measures decided upon and in place are showing themselves to be effective. The Church in the United States has taken the good road for renewing itself. We think that this is important news in the context of the recent media attacks, which have undoubtedly caused damage.

But it should not escape an observer who is not superficial that the authority of the Pope and the intense and consistent commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have not been weakened but confirmed in supporting and orienting the episcopates in combating and uprooting abuses wherever they manifest themselves.

The recent letter of the Pope to the Church in Ireland is an intense witness that contributes to preparing the future through a path of “healing, renewal, reparation.” With humility and confidence, in the spirit of penance and hope, the Church now enters Holy Week asking for the mercy and grace of the Lord who suffers and rises for all.

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