The Holy Father today release a pastoral letter to the people of God in Ireland. His words in this letter can well be applied to all countries where the sexual abuse by clergy and religious has occurred. I want to share with you just one section of this letter, the most poignant and heart felt expression of sorrow I have heard from the Pope on this tragedy.
“To the victims of abuse and their families: You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were couragious enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect on your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult event to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive suffering, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.
“Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of the Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.”
There are other sections this letter address to parents, priests, and others — all worth your time to read.
Log on to www.vatican.va click on “English” and then click on the link to the Pastoral Letter to Ireland. The button is prominently displayed on the upper center of the page.