I recently received the following from a parishioner:
" On another matter. I am concerned with the high number of priests ( at all levels) linked to sexual abuse and the fact that there is very little discussion abut the impact this situation has on ordinary people (like me) who look up to priests for guidance. Is this something that you ( or another deacon) can help me to understand? My faith and trust in Jesus remains strong, nevertheless I have to admit I am struggling with these demons."
Let me be quite clear, one case of abuse and one cover-up is one too many. There must be an absolute zero tolerance policy on this issue. Studies would seem to indicate that around 4% of priests have been credibly accused of abuse around the world. The vast majority of these cases took place in the past and sadly the climate at that time indicates that there were cover-ups to try to protect the image of the Church as an Institution rather than protect the reality of the Church as the people of God.
What has happened has happened and we cannot undo the crimes that took place no matter how much we would like to. What I can say is what steps are being undertaken in Britain to try to ensure that abuse does not take place in the future. All candidates for the priesthood and permanent diaconate have to undergo the highest level of DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checking. Candidates before final acceptance undergo rigorous psychological testing and evaluation. Each parish and Catholic institution has Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection policies and a lay group to oversee the implementation of these polices and to be a port of call in the case of suspected abuse.
Finally I would urge you all to pray. Firstly pray for the direct victims of abuse and their families. They are hurting and we must do all we can to support them. Secondly please pray for the vast majority of the clergy who are innocent of any wrong doing. They are as hurt and bewildered by what has happened as you.
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