The founder of a new center aiding victims of abuse and their families praised the “courageous” actions of Pope Francis in facing the issue, stressing also the importance of helping victims to heal.
Discussing a new commission authorized by Pope Francis last which seeks to increase efforts preventing the abuse of minors, Father Fortunato Di Noto stated that “the commission is a proof” of the Pope's “commitment to prevent abuses and take care of the victims.”
Fr. Di Noto is originally from Sicily, and is the founder of the new “Meter House” in Rome, which officially opened Dec. 9 and offers psychological, spiritual and legal assistance to both victims of abuse, as well as their families.
In comments to CNA, the priest stressed the importance of the Church addressing the issue, emphasizing that “Pope Francis is a courageous man, courageous as Pope Benedict” for his action in creating the new commission.
“It’s a good idea. I have been asking for this commission for years, now it’s time to continue to follow what Pope Benedict did to protect the children.”
“This commission will be a tremendous help to address all the issues concerning the abuse by clergy and to protect children,” he said, “the Church cannot go backwards.”
The Church “is of the Baby Jesus,” noted the priest, “and from him and from children the Church can start the path of reform and revolution in light of the Gospel, for the little ones and the poor ones.”
Meter House, meter being the Greek word for “mother,” was an idea that was “gradually understood,” Fr. Di Noto revealed, stating that he and the others collaborating in the effort “started to fight against pedophiles and child pornography during the late 1980s.”
“We continued to work for all the children in Italy and the world,” with the primary motive of offering “a safe shelter and to let little victims try to heal from the pain and anger they suffered.”
Fr. Di Noto recalled that he originally felt the call to assist abuse victims after seeing “the first pictures made by pedophiles” while in the seminary in Rome in 1989.
“I decided to commit myself to fight against pedophiles and child pornography. It’s a Mission God gave me since I decided to be a priest.”
Detailing the story of how in his first parish assignment he saved the life of a 12-year-old girl who wanted to commit suicide as the result of abuse, Fr. Di Noto explained that from that moment he wanted to “let the people know who I was and what I was doing in my parish.”
Fr. Di Noto explained that after this incident, he began to celebrate “Abused Victims Day” in his parish, adding that “now, 18 years later, we celebrate the GBV in communion with the Church,” and that “every year the Pope remembers to celebrate” the day, lasting from April 25th to the first Sunday of May.
“Meter Association,” he noted, “is completely” at the “disposal to collaborate with the Church and the society, as it has always been doing for about 24 years.”
Revealing his hopes for the future of the center, Fr. Di Noto stated that “I would like that one day nobody shall need of this center. That will be the day when we’ll have defeated all the abusers.”
In a letter written to Fr. Di Noto on the occasion of the Dec. 9 opening of the center, Pope Francis extended his “cordial greeting” to the victims of violence and to their families.
The pontiff also expressed his “satisfaction with this opportune institution and encouraging a continuation on the path of selfless dedication in service of little ones, always filled with feelings of genuine charity and love of neighbor.”
Asking for prayers, the Pope invoked the protection the Virgin Mary, extending his Apostolic Blessing to all involved at the center, with “special affection” for “the children and their families.”