Pope writing a letter

Pope Francis Writes Preface of Book by Victim of Clerical Sex Abuse

Francis Once Again Condemns the Evil of Sex Abuse Perpetrated by Clergy and Religious

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“How can a priest, at the service of Christ and of His Church, come to cause such evil? How can one who has consecrated his life to leading the little ones to God, end up instead devouring them in what I have called a ‘diabolic sacrifice,’ which destroys both the victims and the life of the Church?”
As reported by Vatican Radio, these words are those of Pope Francis in the preface he wrote to a book by a victim of clerical sexual abuse, Daniel Pettit, today a husband and father of six children.
In the preface, Francis describes meeting Mr Pettit at the Vatican during the Year of Consecrated Life.
“I couldn’t imagine that this man, enthusiastic and passionate about Christ, was a victim of abuse by a priest,” the Pope writes. “And yet this is what he told me, and his suffering struck me deeply. I saw once more the fearful damage caused by sexual abuse, and the long and painful journey that awaits the victims.”
In particular, Pope Francis notes that some victims have even taken their own lives.
“These deaths,” the Pope said, “weigh on my heart, on my conscience, and on that of the whole Church …  To their families, I offer my sentiments of love and of sorrow, and I humbly ask forgiveness.”
Absolute monstrosity radically contrary to all that Christ teaches us
Pettit’s witness, the Pope says, deals with “an absolute monstrosity, a horrendous sin, radically contrary to all that Christ teaches us.”
Pope Francis recalls the Church’s duty to care for and protect the weakest and the most defenceless; and the duty to show proof of “extreme severity towards priests who betray their mission, and towards their hierarchy, Bishops or Cardinals, who protect them.”
Breaking Down Walls of Silence
And yet despite the sufferings Pettit has undergone, the Pope says, “he has come to see another face of the Church,” which has “allowed him not to lose hope in men and in God.
While noting that Pettit has met with the priest who abused him–taking his hand and forgiving him, Francis quotes Pettit’s words: “Many people can’t understand that I don’t hate him. I have forgiven him, and I have built my life on that forgiveness.”
In conclusion, Pope Francis thanks Pettit for his witness, “because testimonies such as his break down the walls of silence that stifled the scandals and the sufferings, and shed light on a terrible area of shadows in the life of the Church.” Moreover, he noted, it makes pedophiles “become aware of the terrible consequences of their actions.”

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