Pope Francis has outlined eight points that the church will focus on in an “all-out battle” against the sexual abuse of minors. To this, he said, “turn this evil into an opportunity for purification. We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable, for they are the image of Jesus,” following the Vatican summit’s closing mass in the Sala Regina He continued by saying,
“For this reason, the Church has now become increasingly aware of the need to not only curb the gravest cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes but also to decisively confront the phenomenon both inside and outside the church.”
The Pope’s closing remark for the Vatican sex abuse summit Feb. 21 -24 was filled with statistics on the overall phenomenon of all child sexual abuse world wild, of which most of them occur within the context of the family, He pointed out.
The meaning behind child sex abuse comes from “the present day manifestation of evil,” He said adding that consecrated persons who commit such crime become “tools of Satan.” Therefore, he added that “We need to take up the spiritual means that the Lord Himself teaches us: humiliation, self-accusation, prayer, and penance. This is the only way to overcome the spirit of evil. It is how Jesus Himself overcame it.”
However, to support the World Health Organization’s “seven strategies for ending violence against children,” the Pope presented eight guidelines to aid the church in “her legislative development” on the issues.
The eight guidelines can be summarized as follows:
- Having a “change of mentality” to focus on protecting the children rather than “protecting the institution.”
- Recognizing the “impeccable seriousness” of the “sins and crimes of consecrated persons.”
- A genuine purification beginning with “self-accusation.”
- Positive formation of candidates for priesthood in the virtue of chastity.
- Strengthening and reviewing of guidelines by episcopal conferences, reaffirming the need for “rules.”
- The accomplishment of those who have been abused with an emphasis on listening.
- Ensure that seminarians and clergy are not enslaved to an addiction to pornography.
- Combat sexual tourism around the world.
“The Church’s aim will, therefore, be to hear, watch over, protect and care for the abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are, and to achieve this goal, the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit for various interests the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.” Pope Francis said.
He further said that the brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.” Twice in his speech, he highlighted “the scourge of pornography” and its roles on violence against minors.
We need to “encourage Countries and authorities to apply every measure needed to contain these websites that threaten human dignity.” Pope Francis said, adding that that the church should consider aging the age limit of the crime as specified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 of “the acquisition, possession or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors” to above its current limit of 14 years old.
The Pope made a heartfelt appeal both to the authorities and individuals for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas. He again stressed on the important need to turn this evil into an opportunity for purification. He also emphasized on mercy and loving one’s enemy stating that if our hearts are open to mercy, we would proclaim before the world that it is possible to overcome evil with good.