As many of you may know by now, today Pope Francis met with 6 clergy sex abuse victims. All reports I have read so far indicate that the victims found this a profound experience. They stayed at the Domus Santa Marta where Francis lives, meeting him last night at dinner. If they wished, they could join him for Mass this morning at which he preached the homily that you will find at this link by clicking here. He preached in Spanish, something I have noticed he does when he wants to make sure that what he is saying comes out just so. You can view a video clip of the homily here. I urge you to read the homily. They then joined him for breakfast. He then met with each one personally, with their support person present and an interpreter, for up to a half hour. Two of the victims, a woman and a man, spoke with the press afterwards. You can read those interviews here and here. Our own Magy Stelling weighed in on Father James Martin’s Facebook page. With her permission, I include her comments below in quotes. Some commenters have stated they think this was a PR stunt, but reports from the survivors indicate they experienced a genuine, humble attempt to try to make things right. I see this as a first step, one it has taken Francis awhile to take. I think he has been in a process of discerning just what that first step should be and trying to get it right. I hope and pray that he will continue to take correct steps to heal this ugly mess that has been a painful thing for many of us, including those who were not victims. It has affected all of us…..Reyanna
“For me the most important point Pope Francis made is that God loves each and every survivor. The reason this point is so important is that not only the abuse but the betrayal of Church leadership destroyed that trust that the survivor was truly loved by God. I know it is difficult for one to understand that loss of trust. but it is something a survivor questions every day. and it leaves one totally despondent. For the survivor will say where was God when this happened? Why didn’t God stop it? Why didn’t God strike that Bishop deaf and dumb when he would not accept my word? The broken trust of what one has been taught of who and what God is is a terrible thing for a child to live with and if not corrected it only grows more burdened some as one grows older.
Restoring that trust is an arduous task. The compassion of dedicated persons, men and women, ordained and laity, can and do contribute to the restoration of trust in the survivor with their prayers, patience, listening abilities and most important is the way they live their lives.
As for the survivor a commitment to stay the course, no matter the pain, is a definite. Mistakes on both parties will be made and they can be over come with honesty and compassion. from both parties. Two of the most difficult things a survivor needs to do is to believe God loves them and to forgive those who have harmed them. And both of these require a desire to accomplish these task. So the survivor must be given the “tools” to develop these desires through psychological help and spiritual direction. along with a welcoming community. Forgiveness will not come easily so in the mean time it is sufficient to just ask of the desire and work on that.