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Courtesy of Archives of Catholic Church of England and Wales

Comprehensive Response to Sexual Abuse Crisis Needed, Otherwise Mission of Church in the World Will Be in Jeopardy, Stress Vatican Meeting to Protect Minors’ Organizers

Organizing Committee Members of February Meeting Send Letter to Participants Demanding Information, Transparency, and Noting Everyone in Church Must Be Held Accountable

Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world.

The Organizing Committee of the meeting on “The protection of minors in the Church,” February 21-24, 2019, in the Vatican, stated this in a letter they sent to the encounter’s participants.

It was signed by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, USA; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India, and President of the Episcopal Conference of India; Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Father Hans Zollner, SJ, President of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and appointed as referent of the Committee.

The letter begins by encouraging those reading it to reach out to and meet with abuse victims, to understand the gravity of the situation and collect information ahead of the meeting. The bishops also are directed to answer the questionnaire attached to this letter.

The questionnaire, the committee expressed, is to provide a tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to “express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.”

The Holy Father, they explained, asked them to thank all bishops reading the letter for their support in completing the attached questionnaire to better prepare for the meeting, and “to urgently invite you to take up this road together. The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met.”

“But each of us needs to own this challenge,” it continued, “coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.”

Following the publishing of the letter, Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, made the following comments: “The organizers are urging participants to meet with victim survivors  in their own countries before coming in February. This is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened.”

“The meeting on the protection of minors will focus on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

Here is the full Vatican-provided English text of that letter:

***

Dear Brothers in Christ,

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). With these words Pope Francis began his Letter to the People of God (August 2018) in response to the abuse crisis facing the Church. Those abused by clerics were also damaged when “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” And so, “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.”

Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world.

The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened. For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.

Additionally, we ask you to answer the questionnaire attached to this letter. It provides a tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.

With this in mind, the Holy Father has asked us to thank you for your support in completing the attached questionnaire to better prepare for the meeting, and to urgently invite you to take up this road together. The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met.

But each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable.

Please note that we would be grateful to have your responses as soon as possible, but no later than January 15.

God bless in this Advent season,

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Fr. Hans Zollner SJ

[Original text: English]

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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