The way in which the Church confronts sexual abuse and its extensive coverage recently in the media is “crucial” for her moral credibility, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Saturday. He looked to Pope Benedict XVI and various bodies within the Church working to "eradicate the scourge of abuses."
In a note released through Vatican Radio, he stated that recognizing the facts and making amends for cases that "generally" took place years ago is the price of “the reestablishment of justice” and of that “purification of memory" which will allow the Church to look to the future with “renewed commitment" and "humility and trust"
He highlighted the responses of episcopal conferences in different parts of the world which have "reinforced, updated and renovated" directives that provide for the "correct management and prevention of abuses."
Referring to the "decisive measures" and actions of the U.S. Bishops, he said their recently released annual report shows that the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" is obtaining positive results. Fr. Lombardi remarked that it must be recognized that efforts are proving to be "effective."
"The Church in the United States has taken the good road to renewing itself," he noted.
The U.S. Bishops' Conference reported on March 23 that accusations of sexual abuse had dropped by a third in the past year, with "virtually all cases" having taken place decades ago.
This, Fr. Lombardi continued, is an "important news item in the context of recent media attacks, that have undoubtedly provoked damages.
"But," he added, "to an unsuperficial observer it doesn't escape their attention that the authority of the Pope and the intense and coherent commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith come out not weakened, but confirmed in supporting and orienting the episcopates in combating and eradicating the scourge of abuses everywhere they might manifest themselves."
The Vatican spokesman concluded that it is with "humility and trust, in the spirit of penance and hope" that the Church begins Holy Week "and asks the mercy and grace of the Lord who suffers and rises again for us."