Archbishop Charles Scicluna’s firmly grounded address to Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences and other participants at the Vatican meeting provided those present with a vast panorama of existing practices, procedures and tools as well as a pledge to make sure that everything will be done, in the Church, to avoid the crimes and the wounds caused in the past.
Scicluna, who delivered the second presentation at the meeting, entitled “Taking Responsibility for Processing Cases of Sexual Abuse and for Prevention of Abuse”, is the Archbishop of Malta and Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Day one of the event has “Responsibility” as its main theme.
On behalf of the Holy See, Scicluna has been charged with conducting investigations into sexual abuse by clergy. He is also President of the canonical team (The College for Recourses) dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse.
In his long address on the first day of the meeting, Archbishop Scicluna highlighted the fact that the way Bishops exercise their ministry at the service of justice in our communities is one of the fundamental tests of their stewardship and, indeed, of their fidelity to the Church.
“We have been entrusted with the care of our people. It is our sacred duty to protect our people and to ensure justice when they have been abused”, he said.
Scicluna’s address illustrated the main phases of processes of individual cases of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy.
He also gave some practical suggestions, which he said, are “dictated by prudence, best practice, and the paramount concern for the safeguarding of the innocence of our children and young people”.
The Archbishop illustrated policies and tools that are in place in the Church regarding the “Reporting of Sexual Misconduct”, of “Investigating Cases of Sexual Misconduct”, of the “Canonical Penal Processes”, of the “Interface with Civil Jurisdiction”, of “Implementing Canonical Decisions” and of the “Prevention of Sexual Abuse”.
In his conclusion he quoted from Pope Francis’ Letter to the People of God (20 August 2018) saying : “It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. 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.”
“The faith community under our care” Archbishop Scicluna said, “should know that we mean business. They should come to know us as friends of their safety and that of their children and youth. We will engage them with candour and humility. We will protect them at all cost. We will lay down our lives for the flocks entrusted to us.”
For more information on the meeting on “The Protection of Minors in the Curch” and for Archbishop Charles Scicluna’s full address www.pbc2019.org