.- The Vatican Information Service (VIS) announced today the publication of a volume produced by the Pontifical Academy for Life containing the findings of the symposium organized by the academy, in collaboration with other offices of the Holy See, that was held at the Vatican April 2-5, 2003, on the subject of the “Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Priests and Religious.”
As CNA informed earlier this week, the volume is entitled, “Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Scientific and Legal Perspectives.” According to Vatican Information Service, the book has been sent to the world’s episcopal conferences and will be made public at the end of March, but an advanced copy was made available to journalists for consultation.
The Pontifical Academy said in a statement that the scope of the April 2003 conference and of this book, “was exclusively to present the phase reached by scientific research on this theme. Obviously, it was not possible to invite all experts in this sector, however several of them, of the highest scientific stature, were available to come to Rome and to publish their contributions, even if none of the eight experts is Catholic.”
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Vice President of the Academy for Life, notes in an introduction to the volume, that the 2003 symposium touched upon “a terrible phenomenon that, in recent years, has increasingly created unease in the Church and in the media. Pope John Paul II has clearly and emphatically drawn attention to the grave injustice done to the victims.”
“He called upon the Church to do everything in its power to assuage the resultant pain and to prevent future incidents. Many men and women in the Church have already dedicated themselves to this important task, bishops’ conferences have produced guidelines and the Holy See has devoted itself intensely to this issue through various dicasteries. Sexual abuse presents a huge challenge,” Bishop Sgreccia added.
He also explained that “to formulate responsible solutions requires the consideration of psychological, medical, ethical, anthropological, theological, pastoral, juridical, and many other perspectives. Obviously all this goes beyond the scope of what one can achieve in one single symposium.”
Bishop Sgreccia explained that the scientists present at the symposium “were able to present the theme in its complexity and also presented different opinions current in the scientific world.”
He noted that “international ecclesial personalities who are actively involved in the treatment of priests and religious” were at the symposium, though “they did not participate in the role of experts to be consulted. Instead they were the listeners and questioners. The criterion for inviting them was that the institutions they represent are de facto used by bishops’ conferences for the treatment of priests and religious.”
Calling the book “a first step,” Bishop Sgreccia said “important aspects of the theme have yet to be dealt with. May this publication prove to be a support and stimulus for all who deal with this troubling and complex issue.”