Pope Francis: Child sexual abuse concerns the entire society

Addressing a delegation of the Latin American Research and Training Commission for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), Pope Francis highlights the progress made by the Church in eradicating the scourge of child sexual abuse, and calls for continued action to safeguard vulnerable people.

By Lisa Zengarini

The scourge of child sexual abuse must be addressed by society at large, Pope Francis told a Catholic Latin American interdisciplinary group involved in training priests and religious for the protection of minors.

“The abuses that have affected the Church are but a pale reflection of a sad reality that involves all of humanity and to which the necessary attention is not paid,” said the Pope in his address on Monday to a delegation of the “Consejo Latinoamericano del Centro de Investigación y Formación para la Protección del Menor” (Latin American Research and Training Commission for the Protection of Minors, CEPROME).

Face of the suffering Christ

In his address, the Holy Father associated the suffering of abused children and of all vulnerable persons to that of the suffering Christ, recalling the “martyr child”, St. Chistopher de La Guardia celebrated by the Church in Spain on 25 September. 

“How the world would change,” he said, “if we saw in the suffering of every child, of every vulnerable person, a trait imprinted in the veil with which Veronica wiped the face of Christ!”

Addressing the scourge of child sexual abuse in society

Pope Francis thanked the Latin American commission for its work, which, he noted, is one of the several contributions to the progress the Church has made in the past years in addressing and eradicating child sexual abuse.

He remarked that “it must also be a significant work for society, so that the steps and achievements of the Church in this path can be an incentive for other institutions to promote this culture of care.”

Referring to the image that identifies each of the little ones with Christ Himself, the Pope further noted that the Church’s efforts in fighting this scourge “is not limited to the mere application of protocols”, but is also “entrusted to Jesus in prayer.”

“And, in front of the Redeemer,” he said, “we also contemplate in that outraged face the suffering we have received and caused, so as not to feel distant from the people we welcome, but brothers, even in pain.”

Praying for the conversion of abusers

Concluding his address, Pope Francis invited everyone to pray through the intercession of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, so that those who commit these crimes may be converted and see in their victims “the eyes of Jesus.”

“[ Let us love one another – Jesus tells us – as we love ourselves, that is, aware of our wounds, our smallness, our need for forgiveness and consolation. And we pray, with the trust that Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus teaches us, in these days preceding her feast, for the most unhappy and desperate sinners, for their conversion, so that they can see in others the eyes of Jesus who asks them: ‘Why do you persecute me?’]”

As published on https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-09/pope-child-sexual-abuse-concerns-the-entire-society.html

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