On prevention of child abuse, Pope Francis points to St. John Bosco's example 

Pope Francis at the general audience in St Peters Square on January 31 2018 Credit Daniel Ibanez 2 CNA Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on January 31, 2018. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

In an unscripted video message that appears to have been recorded on a cell phone, Pope Francis spoke of the need for an “apostolate of prevention” to protect minors from abuse.

“Prevention. Prevention. Because you never know where a child will be abused, where the child will be misled, where someone will teach him to smoke drugs, a form of corruption. Let us not think that only sexual abuse is the only type of abuse. Any type of corruption is an abuse of a child,” Pope Francis said in Spanish in a YouTube video published on July 18 by the Pontifical University of Mexico.

The pope sent the video message to participants in a July 1-26 course on the protection of minors organized by CEPROME, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis said that courses on abuse protection are important “for all children so that no one abuses them, no one prevents them from reaching Jesus.”

In the video, Francis stressed the importance of preventing abuse, pointing to the examples of St. John Bosco’s education of children and modern drug-use prevention.

“I’ll make a comparison how to take care of a person to prevent from using drugs,” Pope Francis said, implying that preventing drug abuse is usually simpler than trying to help someone with a drug problem to recover. Similarly, the pope said, the Church must focus attention on the prevention of abuse, so that no children suffer the devastating effects of sexual abuse.

“Now in this case it’s how to prevent the abuse of minors,” Pope Francis said.

“The apostolate of prevention, Don Bosco intuited this. Don Bosco instituted a form of education called a preventive system,” he said, adding that while this system was criticized at the time, “later, it was recognized that there was a great value of the preventive system.”

St. John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, was a 19th century Italian priest who reached out to young people in the city of Turin to remedy their lack of education, opportunities, and faith.

The Director of CEPROME Fr. Daniel Portillo told ACI Prensa that the pope’s message was an encouragement to the participants in this month’s course.

“Above all, because he comes to ask us, to ask what our commitment to prevention really is,” Portillo said.

“If the intervention does not go hand in hand with prevention, things do not work with the clarity with which a security code for the protection of our children should advance,” he said.

In the fall, CEPROME will also organize the first Latin American Congress on the Prevention of Child Abuse Nov. 6-8.


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