CARDINAL O’MALLEY CALLS FOR CONSEQUENCES FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP – PCPM MEMBER ON PAPAL LETTER OMISSIONS: THE WORDS ‘BISHOP,’ ‘SUPERIOR,’ AND ‘LEADERSHIP’ – PRESS RELEASE FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

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CARDINAL O’MALLEY CALLS FOR CONSEQUENCES FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP

Cardinal O’Malley posts a video message on the website of the Archdiocese of Boston in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report calling for “accountability and consequences” for Church leadership.
By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (Vatican media)

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and head of the Vatican Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, posted a video message on the website of the Archdiocese of Boston in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. The video was posted on Saturday just days before Pope Francis released a letter to the People of God in response to the ongoing clerical abuse crisis.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/285548145

Words fail
Cardinal O’Malley said that, “words fail” for the situation the Church in the U.S. is facing. He said that hearts are “wrenched” as we yet again hear of the “devastating pain experienced by survivors”, and “we remain shamed by these egregious failures to protect children and those who are vulnerable and affirm our commitment that these failures will never be repeated.”

Accountability of Church leaders
Cardinal O’Malley acknowledges that many perpetrators have been made accountable for their crimes. However, he also admits that the Church has yet “to establish clear and transparent systems of accountability and consequence for Church leadership whose failures have allowed these crimes to occur”. He also said that all who participate in the Church’s mission must “embrace spiritual conversion” and that “legal transparency and pastoral accountability” must be demanded of them.

Clock ticking
“Immediate action” must be taken, the Cardinal continues, because “the clock is ticking”. He then states that both Catholics and civil society have lost patience and confidence in “Church leadership”, but adds that he is hopeful that the failures of the past can be corrected. He calls on the Church “to help people not to lose hope”, and said that it is often “survivors and victims who courageously teach us that we cannot lose hope”.

Earning back trust
The Cardinal acknowledges that “the crisis we face is a product of clerical sins and clerical failures” and can only be addressed with the “involvement and leadership of lay men and women in our Church, individuals who can bring their competence, experience and skills to the task we face”.

Cardinal O’Malley concluded saying that only by recognizing the reality it faces, can the Church “earn back trust, confidence and support from the community of Catholics in our society. We must proceed quickly and with purpose. There is no time to waste.”

PCPM MEMBERS ON PAPAL LETTER OMISSIONS: THE WORDS ‘BISHOP,’ ‘SUPERIOR,’ AND ‘LEADERSHIP,

Vatican City, Aug 21, 2018 / 01:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A member of Pope Francis’ commission for the protection of minors said Tuesday that the role bishops and superiors have played in the crisis of clerical sex abuse must be made explicit if change is to take place.

In comments to CNA Aug. 21, Myriam Wijlens said the text of Francis’ letter on recent clerical abuse revelations “does not contain the words ‘bishop,’ ‘superior,’ and ‘leadership, though it was implied, but “necessary conversion requires that these words find explicit articulation.”

“It is an important step in creating a culture of accountability,” she noted. A member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and a canon lawyer, Wijlens said for justice to be carried out, “more steps” must follow.

“Create clear institutions where complaints against bishops and superiors can be brought forward, provide for truly independent investigations, and hold those who cover up accountable,” she advised.

Wijlens, from the Netherlands, was appointed to the PCPM in February.
She noted three areas which are of concern to her as a canon lawyer: first, the formation of a culture that not only prevents sexual abuse but also the abuse of power that leads to cover-ups; and second, having appropriate ways for victims of abuse to report, be heard, and obtain justice.

“Third, see to it that accused get a just and transparent trial and those who cover up including bishops are held accountable,” she said. “Here the conversion begins: the leadership of the church must go out of its own circles.”
In a public statement Tuesday, the PCPM said it was encouraged by Pope Francis’ letter on the sexual abuse crisis and thanked him for his “strong words recognizing the pain and suffering” of survivors of abuse from members of the Church.

They said members of the commission “feel supported by the Holy Father’s call to church leadership” to implement zero tolerance and emphasized that this and accountability are foundational for the protection of children now and in the future.

In the same statement, Wijlens added that the pope’s clear connection between sexual abuse, abuse of power, and abuse of conscience means he “verbalizes what many do not want to see connected.”

She also said that asking for pardon and reparation will “never be sufficient” because it only looks at the past, whereas a “forward looking response implies asking for a radical change of culture, where the safety of children enjoys top priority.”

PRESS RELEASE FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

August 21, 2018 – The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is encouraged by Pope Francis’ call to zero tolerance of abuse. The PCPM is encouraged by the Letter to the Holy People of God issued Monday by Pope Francis.

The Commission thanks the Holy Father for his strong words recognizing the pain and suffering endured by people who have suffered sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by some members of the Church.

We are forever indebted to the prophetic courage and endurance of many men and women whose “outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it.”
Zero tolerance and accountability are pre-requisite in safeguarding

The members of the Commission feel supported by the Holy Father’s call to church leadership to “implement zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable.”

Pope Francis’ letter reinforces the PCPM message that zero tolerance and accountability are a pre-requisite in safeguarding vulnerable people from abuse, now and in the future.

Commission member Prof. Myriam Wijlens states:

“For me a canon lawyer who has been engaged in many abuse cases three aspects stand out: first, Pope Francis clearly expresses a connection between sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience. He verbalizes what many do not want to see connected.

Secondly, he mentions two levels of abuse of power: there are those who use their position to sexually abuse minors and vulnerable adults and there are those in leadership positions who abuse their power to cover this up.

Thirdly, the response of asking for pardon and seeking repair will never be sufficient also because it only looks backwards. A forward-looking response implies asking for a radical change of culture where the safety of children enjoys top priority. Protecting the reputation of the church stipulates putting the safety of children first. The clergy alone will not be able to bring about such a radical change, thus Pope Francis writes: in humility they will have to ask for and receive help from the whole community. (http://www.protectionofminors.va/content/tuteladeiminori/en/news_section/pres-statement/ps-20180821-en1.html)

For more information on the PCPM and its work in promoting a safeguarding culture in local churches around the world visit: http://www.protectionofminors.va

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