Fr. Lombardi reflects on Church's efforts to assist abuse victims

Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI.

.- How can we "stay the course" after Holy Week in regard to sexual abuses? Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi asked in a statement released by Vatican Radio on Friday. In answer, he said, "Before all else (by) continuing to seek truth and peace for the victims."

As cases of sexual abuse continue to come to light, Fr. Lombardi noted that victims often have "interior wounds" that affect them on “a profound personal level," and that they should be provided with assistance in healing these wounds. He saluted all episcopates that have offered ways for victims to be heard and to freely express themselves, "without taking for granted that the problem had already been confronted or overcome."

Fr. Lombardi also highlighted bishops' conferences and individual priests who have given "spiritual, liturgical and human attention" to victims with paternal care.

The Pope, he added, citing the letter to Irish Catholics, has also expressed his desire to offer similar help by meeting with victims. It is a path, said Lombardi, that in order to achieve "profound effects" must be developed still further with a focus on respect for the persons involved and the search for peace.

He went on to write that only by continuing to carry out canonical procedures with "decisiveness and veracity" and collaboration with civil authorities can the Church "think of effectively rebuilding a climate of justice and full trust in the ecclesial institution."

Fr. Lombardi also underlined the importance of formation and candidate selection in preventing abuse by priests, suggesting that the "sense and importance of the meaning of sexuality, chastity and affectionate relationships in the world today" must be rediscovered and reaffirmed.

For an objective evaluation of the problem of pedophilia and sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican spokesman said that “one must understand its extent and pervasive nature.” Whoever loves the truth, he remarked, will see the measure to which the Church shares the problem with the rest of society and how the Church's experience can be used to help combat it in other institutions.

Fr. Lombardi closed his remarks by urging respect and support for Pope Benedict XVI, whom he called the "coherent guide on the path of rigor and veracity."

"He is a Pastor up to the task of confronting with great rectitude and certainty this difficult time, in which there is not shortage of unfounded criticisms and insinuations,” the spokesman wrote.

He added that Pope Benedict would respond "with patience to the gradual emergence of partial or alleged 'revelations' which are seeking to undermine his credibility or that of other institutions and persons in the Church."

"We need this patient and firm love of the truth in the Church, in the society in which we live, in communicating and writing, if we want to serve and not confuse our contemporaries," the message finished.

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