Seminarians from the Pontifical North American College walk in procession during the ordination of new deacons in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 30, 2021. Pope Francis has shared a letter from an adult survivor of clergy abuse, addressed to the world's seminarians, calling for an end to silence and a commitment to truth. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis shares letter of abuse victim

  • October 20, 2021

VATICAN CITY -- An adult survivor of abuse by a priest appealed to the world’s seminarians to become good priests and to make sure the “bitter truth” always prevails, not silence about scandals and their cover-up.

“Please, do not sweep things under the carpet, because then they start to stink, putrefy, and the rug itself will rot away. ... Let us realize that if we hide these facts, when we keep our mouths shut, we hide the filth and we thus become a collaborator,” said the survivor in a letter sent to Pope Francis and addressed to all seminarians.

The letter, written in Italian, had been sent to Pope Francis, who then requested it be made public with the author’s identity withheld, according to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which republished the text of the letter Oct. 18.

By sharing this testimony publicly, “Pope Francis wants to welcome the voices of all wounded people and to show all priests who proclaim the Gospel the path that leads to authentic service of God to the benefit of all vulnerable people,” the commission’s president, U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, wrote in an introduction to the letter.

The woman writing the letter explained how she was harmed for years as a girl by a priest, leaving her with mental health issues.

“I am afraid of priests, of being near them,” she wrote, and she can no longer go to Mass because this “sacred space” that used to be her second home now only triggers pain and fear.

“I want to ask you to protect the Church, the body of Christ,” she wrote in her appeal to seminarians.

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