Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vatican Prosecutor Demands Action against Child Abuse

Scicluna calls on Catholic Church to act with determination against child abuse

Charles J. Scicluna with Fr. Lombardi

The Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith described to the Vatican Insider the objectives of the conference against paedophilia which opens next week

“In certain Churches where the code of silence is being broken, the number of reported cases of abuse sharply rose before slowly decreasing again. However the worldwide estimates concerning child abuse in society are truly alarming...”said Mgr. Charles J. Scicluna, 52 years old, promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is the man whofor almost ten years has been working with Joseph Ratzinger to fight the upsetting phenomenon of child abuse at the hands of clerics and now he describes to the Vatican Insider the meaning and the objectives of the Symposium which will take place from 6 to 9 February at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He said “There is a desire to act and react well, with determination.” The Symposium called “Towards healing and renovation” has been organized by the university together with some dicasteries of the Holy See and the support of the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. Participants will include the representatives of 110 Episcopal conferences as well as the Father Superiors of thirty religious orders. This will be a truly international conference. According to a press release on the Symposium www.thr.unigre.it one of the speakers at the event will be an abuse victim who will talk to attendees about the necessity for victims to be heard and how positive change can be promoted.

Mgr. Scicluna, what is the aim of this Symposium on child abuse by clerics, opening at the Pontifical Gregorian University?
“The words that spring to mind are ‘increased awareness’ (with the sharing of experiences and the analysis of the latest scientific reports) and commitment (with the will to react and act well and with determination).”

From your point of view how would you describe today’s situation compared to the past? Is the phenomenon of child abuse becoming smaller?
“We do not have enough data- maybe we never will- to understand the truth about this upsetting phenomenon. There will always be disparity between the number of cases that actually happen and those that are reported. I noticed that in the Particular Churches (like in the US) where the code of silence has long begun to break, the number of reported cases at first went up dramatically but then slowly dropped again, as demonstrated in the US by the “John Jay Report”. On the other hand the recent estimates on child abuse in society worldwide is truly alarming as confirmed, for the example, by the data collected by the ‘Telefono Azzurro’( child helpline equivalent to the NSPCC in the UK)”

Do you think the Church in general and priests have changed their attitude towards this problem? Do you feel there is more collaboration than in the past?
“The determination to tackle the problem that was highlighted by the Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI has been extremely beneficial to bishops and the whole Catholic Church. There is now a greater awareness of the risks for the community, of the damages caused to young people, of the duty the ecclesiastical authorities have to collaborate with canonical and civil justice.’

Pope Benedict XVI did not just set stricter canon rules, but also most crucially showed care and attention to the victims. Is this attitude shared by many in the Church do you think?
“Various episcopates in Europe have given special attention to the victims, beyond their required legal and civil duty. This is an expression of a healthy and sober solidarity. During the Symposium at the Pontifical Gregorian University a great deal of time will be devoted to hearing the victims. It was suggested to the attendees to meet with some abuse victims before coming to Rome for the Symposium. I pray that the Church may increasingly become a light and healing balm for those wounded by this distressing sin.”

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