Pope Francis came down hard after 300 U.S. priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children. He has been unlike other popes, reaching into the lives of his people rather than remaining aloof. This pope even turned away from the royalty-like chambers and slept simply among his priests. Now, he has released a five-page letter written in seven languages condemning this terrible “crime.”
He took the blame, writing “we abandoned them,” according to ABC:
‘We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.’
Then, Pope Francis acknowledged that this was a crime:
‘With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realising (sic) the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.’
The pope then told those who had been abused that he understood “these wounds never go away:”
‘In recent days, a reports was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized this wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away.’
Pope Francis then went further, saying these crimes against children were “heart-wrenching pain,” and the Church was complicit:
The heart-wrenching pain of these victimes, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased the gravity by falling into complicity.
The U.S. bishops’ conference avoided the pain Pope Francis realized, when they called these crimes “sins and omissions.” The Pope wrote, that the future would be different:
‘Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others…An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.