Pope Francis: Child sexual abuse concerns the entire society
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.”