By Lydia O’Kane
The “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting began on Thursday with prayers, readings, and brief periods of silent reflection, before Pope Francis gave his opening remarks in the Vatican’s Synod Hall. In front of the Patriarchs, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Religious Superiors and other leaders, the Pope told them that, “in the face of the plague of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the Church against children”, he had called them together so, “we may listen to the Holy Spirit and with docility to His guidance we may hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice.”
Evil of abuse that afflicts the Church and humanity
He told those gathered that this meeting was, “weighed down by the weight of pastoral and ecclesial responsibility which obliges us to discuss together, in a synodal, sincere and profound way, how to deal with this evil which afflicts the Church and humanity.”
Pope Francis noted that, “the Holy People of God look to us and expect from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be established”.
A Journey of Courage and Concreteness
“Let us therefore”, he commented, “begin our journey armed with faith and the spirit of maximum parresia [frankness], courage and concreteness.”
As a help, the Pope said, he wanted to share with them “some important criteria formulated by the various Commissions and Episcopal Conferences… They are guidelines to help our reflection which will be handed over to you. They are a simple starting point, which comes from you and returns to you, and does not take away from the creativity that must be present in this meeting.”
Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis thanked, “the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the members of the Organizing Committee for the excellent work done with great commitment in preparing this meeting.”
Finally, he asked the Holy Spirit to support all those gathered in the Synod Hall “in these days and to help us transform this evil into an opportunity for awareness and purification. May the Virgin Mary enlighten us to try to heal the serious wounds that the scandal of paedophilia has caused both to children and to believers.”
Prayer for the Vatican Summit Meeting
ruler and guardian of your Church,
pour out, we pray, upon your bishops
a spirit of truth, understanding and peace,
that they may strive with all their heart
to know what is pleasing to you
and then pursue it with all their strength.
Through Christ out Lord.
Adapted from the Roman Missal
Source: Vatican News
Image source: PBC2019.org