Concern for Church should not sideline abuse victims’ welfare

Pope Francis has called for “real and reliable change” in the Church’s approach to protecting children and vulnerable adults.

In a video message to the European conference on Safeguarding, the Pope recalled his 2019 statement that "the wellbeing of victims might not be sidelined in favour of the misguided concern for the reputation of the institutional Church".

He says: “Only by facing the truth of these evil practices and of humbly seeking pardon from victims and survivors will the Church find its way to a place where it can be relied upon once again as a place of welcome and safety for those in need.”

Representatives of bishops’ conferences, religious orders and lay professionals from 20 countries are participating in the three-day event, “Our Common Mission of Safeguarding God’s Children”, in the Polish capital, Warsaw.

Pope Francis says: “Our expressions of sorrow must be converted into concrete pathways of reform to both prevent further abuse and to give confidence to others that our efforts will bring about real and reliable change.

“I encourage you to listen to the cry of the victims and to dedicate yourselves, with each other and with society in a broader sense, in these important discussions because they truly touch the future of the Church in Central and Eastern Europe – not only the Church’s future, but the hearts of Christians as well.

“This is our responsibility.

“The recognition of our errors and our failings can certainly make us feel vulnerable and fragile. But it can also present a moment of splendid grace, a moment of self-emptying, that opens new horizons of love and reciprocal service.

“If we recognize our mistakes, we have nothing to fear, because it will be the Lord himself who will have led us to that point.

“With malice toward none and charity toward all, I urge you to be humble instruments of the Lord, at the service of the victims of abuse, considering them as companions and protagonists of a common future, learning from each other and become more faithful and resilient so that, together, we might face the challenges of the future."

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