Extract from the
INTERVIEW OF THE
HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Mr Auskar Surbakti of SBS, the Australian television: Holy Father, I am sorry but I do not speak Italian well so I will be asking my question in English. There has been a call from Australian victims of sexual abuse by clergy for Your Holiness to address the issue and to offer an apology to the victims during your Visit to Australia. Cardinal Pell himself has said that it would be appropriate for the Pope to address the issue, and you, yourself made a similar gesture on your recent trip to the United States. Will Your Holiness be speaking on the issue of sexual abuse and will you be offering an apology?
The Holy Father: Yes, the problem is essentially the same as in the United States. I felt obliged to speak about it in the United States because it is essential for the Church to reconcile, to prevent, to help and also to see guilt in these problems, so I will essentially say the same things as I said in America. As I said we have three dimensions to clarify: the first I mention is our moral teaching. It must be clear, it was always clear from the first centuries that priesthood, to be a priest, is incompatible with this behaviour, because the priest is in the service of Our Lord, and Our Lord is holiness in person, and always teaching us - the Church has always insisted on this. We have to reflect on what was insufficient in our education, in our teaching in recent decades: there was, in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the idea of proportionalism in ethics: it held that no thing is bad in itself, but only in proportion to others; with proportionalism it was possible to think for some subjects - one could also be paedophilia - that in some proportion they could be a good thing. Now, it must be stated clearly, this was never Catholic doctrine. There are things which are always bad, and paedophilia is always bad. In our education, in the seminaries, in our permanent formation of the priests, we have to help priests to really be close to Christ, to learn from Christ, and so to be helpers, and not adversaries of our fellow human beings, of our Christians. So, we will do everything possible to clarify what is the teaching of the Church and help in the education and in the preparation of priests, in permanent formation, and we will do all possible to heal and to reconcile the victims. I think this is the essential content of what the word "apologize" says. I think it is better, more important to give the content of the formula, and I think the content has to say what was insufficient in our behaviour, what we must do in this moment, how we can prevent and how we all can heal and reconcile.
Extract from the
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
Dear friends, may this celebration, in the presence of the Successor of Peter, be a moment of rededication and renewal for the whole Church in Australia! Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. Indeed, I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their Pastor, I too share in their suffering. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church’s witness. I ask all of you to support and assist your Bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people. In these days marked by the celebration of World Youth Day, we are reminded of how precious a treasure has been entrusted to us in our young people, and how great a part of the Church’s mission in this country has been dedicated to their education and care. As the Church in Australia continues, in the spirit of the Gospel, to address effectively this serious pastoral challenge, I join you in praying that this time of purification will bring about healing, reconciliation and ever greater fidelity to the moral demands of the Gospel.
PRESS RELEASE: MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER WITH A REPRESENTATIVE GROUP OF PERSONS ABUSED BY MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY
As an expression of his ongoing pastoral concern for those who have been abused by members of the clergy, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI today celebrated Mass with a representative group of victims. He listened to their stories and offered them consolation. Assuring them of his spiritual closeness, he promised to continue to pray for them, their families and all victims. Through this paternal gesture, the Holy Father wished to demonstrate again his deep concern for all those who have suffered sexual abuse.
From the Vatican, 21 July 2008