Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Scicluna: courage needed to meet the victims of abuse

Veteran Vaticanologist Andrea Tornielli has just interviewed Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the man who for almost a decade  has fought alongside Pope Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger) in the battle against the scourge of pedophilia. In December 2004, with Pope John Paul's health deteriorating by the day, Ratzinger broke with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano and ordered Msgr. Charles Scicluna,  a canon lawyer on his staff, to investigate the allegations against Fr. Maciel, Founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Monsignor J. Scicluna, is the “promoter of justice” at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was born in Toronto in 1959 to Maltese emigrant parents. Before his first birthday he returned to Malta with his family. In an interview carried on the website "Vatican Insider," run by La Stampa, Ms. Tornielli speaks to Msgr. Scicluna about the scandals related to priestly abuse.
Msgr. Scicluna says, 
The Church considers children’s’ innocence to be one its most precious treasures, and Benedict XVI’s leadership was and is vital. He had the courage to say: we have made a mistake here, here we need to change…
This is precisely what Ratzinger was referring to in his famous meditations for the Via Crucis on Holy Friday back in 2005, when he spoke of the “filth” that existed in the Church: Those words came from three years of abuse case study; there was an awareness of the need to see priests’ sins for what they really were.
 Scicluna uses strong words to underline the fact that violence shown towards minors by clergymen constitutes “an abuse of spiritual power”. 
“Yes, it is true there is a specific difference between repeated abuse by a lay person and that carried out by a priest, on victims that expect to see in them the figure of the “good shepherd”. If a priest commits the abuse, the trauma caused to the victim is even deeper, the spiritual trust that existed is destroyed and a person’s faith is lost.”
Asked by Tornelli whether the change in mentality that Benedict XVI has asked for, is taking root in the Church, he responds 
“I believe that a change in mentality is only possible for those who have the courage to meet the victims of abuse, to welcome them and to listen to their stories. If this does not happen, one may have read up on every detail of the scandal, be fully prepared, but that person will not be able to fully comprehend the trauma that these immense sins cause. The reaction and anger expressed by the victims of priests is unlike that found in any other type of case, because it comes from deep within the soul”.

A Gregorian University initiative, supported by the Vatican, entitled “Towards Healing and Renewal” will be launched in February of 2012. The objective is to provide "a comprehensive response to the problem of sexual abuse and the protection of the vulnerable."   
Msgr. Scicluna reveals in the interview that that the bishops that will be participating in the international seminar at the Gregorian next February, will need to have met with the victims of pedophile priests in their respective countries, prior to attending. 
“It is a traumatic experience that is life changing, as in my case. Thanks be to God, and to the strict laws that are in place and to the development of a new conscience, these cases have decreased dramatically compared to previous years. ...  We need to continue to support the victims who have for so long been seen as “threats” to the good name of the Church, instead of being treated as individuals who have been wounded in their innermost soul. We need to welcome and help these victims ensuring above all that the traumatic experiences they have been through are not repeated”.

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