Silence and denials are unacceptable when the Church is presented with an accusation that a priest has sexually abused a child, said the Vatican’s top investigator of abuse cases. Source: CNS.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who handles abuse cases as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was part of a panel of speakers at a news conference yesterday to outline the Vatican’s plans and hopes for the summit meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.
Archbishop Scicluna said when presented with an accusation that a priest has sexually abused a child, “whether it’s criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial”, such reactions are no longer tolerable.
The February 21-24 meeting will bring together almost 190 Church leaders: the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of religious orders of men and women, Roman Curia officials and invited experts and guest speakers.
At the news conference Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago told reporters, “The Holy Father wants to make very clear to the bishops around the world, not only those participating, that each one of them has to claim responsibility and ownership for this problem and that there is going to be every effort to close whatever loopholes there are.”
Bishops “are going to be held accountable,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Cupich said he expected the meeting to be “a turning point” in the way the Catholic Church handles allegations across the globe and the way it strengthens child protection policies.
However, like the other speakers, he said it would be unreasonable to expect the meeting to mark a sudden and complete end to the clerical sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
“We are going to do everything possible to make sure people are held responsible, accountable, and there’s going to be transparency, because those three elements will keep children safe,” the cardinal said.
Both Archbishop Scicluna and Cardinal Cupich insisted that if all Church leaders around the world had a full grasp of what is necessary to protect children from clerical sexual abuse, the Church also would be in a better position to counter other situations of abuse, including the abuse of vulnerable adults, women religious and seminarians.