-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Gives Six Victims of Abuse Sense of Hope
Spends Half Hour with Each Person and Was Very Affected by What He Heard; Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors Meets for 2nd Time
By H. Sergio Mora
VATICAN CITY, July 07, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis met today, Monday, with six persons who suffered abuse by clergymen. They were invited by Cardinal O'Malley. Two were British, two German and two Irish. "They were in Saint Martha's yesterday, which gave the Pope the occasion to greet them after dinner," said the spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ .
The Pope gave a homily in Spanish during the Mass which was attended by the victims. His words were "particularly significant" and his message was "very dense and very strong", Fr. Lombardi said. This time, he addressed the subject "more directly and amply" he added, and disclosed that some of the images of the Pope during this homily in Saint Martha's will be available.
Once the Mass ended, the Pope greeted those who attended it one by one, as he always does after his Mass in Saint Martha's. Then they had breakfast in the dining room of the residence. At 9:00 am each of the six victims met with the Holy Father, accompanied by a person who helped with the translation. "The conversations lasted until 12:20 pm, that is, one half hour with each one of them," he said.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office spoke with them and perceived "their profound gratitude to the Holy Father," in particular, for having been "listened to with much attention and willingness." Each one was able to express himself "according to his sensibility, and their sentiments were serene and positive," said the spokesman, adding that "they were persons who were pleased for having had this meeting."
"The Pope spent much time with them, which reflected his intention to listen and to understand," said the spokesman, who added that the Holy Father "was also very touched by this meeting."
This was not "a final period, but a way that opens to the future, of healing and of construction," said Father Lombardi. Cardinal O'Malley added that the small number "of persons made possible a profound dialogue."
Second Meeting of the Commission for the Protection of Minors
The second meeting was held yesterday at St. Martha's in theVatican, of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. It was presided over by U.S. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, with the proposal of new members to integrate the Mass, in other words, with persons from other geographical areas, in particular, Asia and Africa.
The news was given today by the Holy See spokesman, who added that "the commission also studied the need to have stable, working headquarters and to organize the working groups, so that outside persons from other institutions " can be included. And he specified that that this coming "month of October the Commission will hold another meeting."
Thus Pope Francis has reiterated the line of zero tolerance undertaken by Benedict XVI against sexual abuses. To help achieve this, last March he created the Commission for the Protection of Minors, of which one of the victims, Mary Collins, is the director.
Among the concrete measures taken is the reduction, last June 27, to the lay state of the former Apostolic Nuncio in the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, after being condemned in the first degree for pederasty by an ecclesiastical court.
Another significant event is that the Holy See has examined 3,420 cases of sexual abuse of minors committed in the last decade with the expulsion of 848 priests, and the investigation of 2,572 other cases, as the Vatican observers reported this year to the United Nations.
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