Archbishop Charles Scicluna.

Abuse crisis far from over, says archbishop

By  Ann Carey, Catholic News Service
  • November 22, 2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Catholics in the United States “have to be prepared for another wave of traumatic narrative” regarding the clergy sex abuse crisis, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said Nov. 13 at the University of Notre Dame.

The archbishop from Malta, the Vatican’s chief investigator on clergy sexual abuse, made the remark during a question-and-answer session. 

Moderator John Allen acknowledged Scicluna could not comment on the case of former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but he noted that many Catholics wonder if anything really has changed since the U.S. bishops issued their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in 2002.

Scicluna responded that “it is not the case that the Church in the United States has not done what it should do,” he said, but “the deficit” of the 2002 charter was that the bishops did not include themselves as possible perpetrators.

He added that the Church in United States has done a good job since 2002, “and was a prophetic Church in doing so,” but, as happened in Pennsylvania, specific reports of past abuse will continue to be revealed.

After a lengthy investigation, a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a report in August 2018 alleging abuse by Church workers and claims of a cover-up in six Catholic dioceses over a 70-year period starting in 1947.

In his job as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Scicluna reviews incoming cases that include the testimonies of the victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

“Nothing prepares you for the hurt and the shame you feel, being a priest, when you read the narrative,” he said, and this trauma will be shared by the faithful as more information is released.

These stories will help people understand why there is so much anger on the part of victim survivors, he said, after describing earlier the “egregious” spiritual as well as physical and psychological harm done to victims by priest abusers. The stories also will help people realize we are all in this together, he said, for when one member of our community suffers, we all suffer.

While it is acceptable to feel anger and frustration about this situation, Scicluna continued, that anger should be transformed into “a determination to get it right; and that each and every one of us needs to give witness to the Gospel wherever we are, because at the end of the day, that will be the way for rebuilding of the Church.”

He praised steps the Church in the U.S. has taken to engage victims and set up independent review boards, audits on child protection and criminal background checks for those working with children.

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