CATHOLIC APOLOGY FOR CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE US

A MODEL OF THE NECESSARY APOLOGY FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Francis upset by clergy abuse

Pope Francis confronts clergy abuse

A PERSONAL NOTE:

I share with Jorge Bergoglio the same family background (Italian immigrants in Argentina); the same age, and the same social upbringing. I grew up in the same Catholic Church he did, under the same ecclesiastic precepts and tenets. I too learned to answer Mass in Latin, even being a girl!

And, as a conflict resolution expert, I know what is missing now, from the high of the Papacy to the humblest of Catholic parishioner wherever they can be living in the world…

This crisis is different. It can’t be easily covered up, because of the extension of the crime (too many victims along too many years of impunity). Precisely for this aspect, and the catholic, universal extension of the Church, this crime taints wider and deeper. The whole relationship between faithful and priesthood is contaminated…and the usual press release proclaiming empty generalities goes nowhere.

Even worst, papal protocol responses offered today, risk confirming the perceived blindness and heartlessness of the actual Papacy.

While thinking how to remedy the eternal cover-up and mishandling by bishops of abuse by priests in their charge, perhaps a direct apology from the Pope to the world Catholics would signal he sees the hurt caused to innocent children and is pained by it first.

This crime demands another, different response to be created just now, based on addressing the hurt done instead of protecting the Church’s reputation..It could begin by offering a complete apology:

A REAL, WORKING APOLOGY CONSISTS OF:

ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ACTION
RECOGNIZING THE HURT DONE TO THE CHILDREN (long term consequences, etc.)
ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS from the victims (restorative justice sessions)
PLANNING HOW TO REPAIR DAMAGE DONE, (including using Vatican funds)
OFFERING A PLAN TO AVOID COMMITTING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE FUTURE. (Including educating the whole Church in prevention of sexual abuse)

Following the steps to a valid, healing apology the Church could heal its failure to protect the youngest dedicated to its care:

Show the world some contrition that goes beyond words:

SHOW SINCERE CONTRITION:

  • Do a video from the Papacy offering your condolences to the affected victims, (can you address them by name and place?) ; tell them how you plan to repair them. Therapy?
  • Describe a NEW plan including NEW rules for Church Hierarchy to process pederasty cases:
  • Get some of the accused priests do a video repenting from their acts (name the act with proper words: “rape” “sodomy”, including victims’ name and date), asking for forgiveness;
  • In this video, they have to say what they give up to pay for their sins (honors, financial security, etc.?) How can they do some real repair work, to help the victims? Please, not generic (“praying” does not count).
  • And how their plan to prevent themselves and others from repeating this sin?

HEALING THE CONGREGATION:

  • OFFER a wide plan to do damage repair:
  • Institute an entity in the Vatican at charge of healing programs for the victims of clerical pederasty. Hire professionals, compile cases, follow up treatment plans, share lessons of recovery. Educate the world in pederasty prevention.
  • Tell the world you will NOT use Vatican money to keep people silent, but use money for prevention and therapy,
  • Create training for new priests in sexual and emotional abuse, doing open groups involving members of the laity and families. Get the victim’s families testimonies as study material for new priests.

REPARATION OF PRIESTHOOD:

  • Create a plan for pederast priests who accept to be reinstated, (and are not in jail) involving:
  • Design an intense reeducation plan, including some public recognition of what he did.
  • Use a label to be attached to their names? (Inscription in an offenders list?)
  • Sending them to RISKY, mission nations, to take care of older people
  • Being registered in long term probation, working in a special order that deals with people in need of spiritual care, done by sinners, like jails.
  • Research and Improve methods to identify applicants who could be prone to pederasty.

OFFERING A PLAN TO PREVENT CHILDREN SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE FUTURE:

A.-Local Level

  • Institute clear policies from Rome:
  • Demand a direct bishop’s connection with police,
  • Connect parish with mental health institutions dedicated to sexual abuse.
  • Mandate immediate reporting of sexual abuse to Vatican authorities.
  • Consider having free services delivered to the victims in each parish.

B.-Universal Reach

  • Using this present experience, compile and publish a text: “Impact of clergy sexual abuse in the Church in XXI Century,” as a teaching tool for the whole Church.
  • Include local incidence and impact of the pederasty problem in the Church laity
  • Research a better management of priests’ emotional problems caused by celibacy and loneliness. .
  • Improve reporting of sexual crimes, and establish legal and canonical consequences in open discussion with parishioners and general public.
  • Use feedback from victims experiences to improve Church Canon when teaching new priests.

In short, offering a sincere plan to address and heal the crime, whatever the cost in prestige or money it presents, will be a welcome change in the traditional posture of the C. C.

Thanks

Dr. Nora Femenia
Creative Conflict Resolutions
Fort Lauderdale, FL,

ressources:

Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, and Lay Leaders On Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States

 

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