Pope Francis has responded today to recent reports of clerical sexual abuse and ecclesial cover-up through a letter titled “Letter to the People of God.”
This letter comes on the heels of a 884-page report documenting clerical abuse in Pennsylvania and ahead of the World Meeting of Families taking place Aug. 21-26 in Dublin, Ireland, where Pope Francis is scheduled to speak later in the week.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has been heavily criticized for his handling of child sexual abuse allegations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, was scheduled to give a keynote at the World Meeting of Families but has since withdrawn. Pope Francis is set to speak as there continues to be mounting pressure on the Vatican to address the history of clerical abuse in Ireland, which extends to abuse of women and girls at the Magdalene Laundries and church-run women and baby homes. While he is not scheduled to meet with abuse survivors during his two-day visit, Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke said such visits — as made in Chile and Philadelphia — are not put on the pope's public schedule.
In the letter, Pope Francis states:
Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.
Pope Francis continually turns to Pauline language of solidarity within the body, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). He also stresses that converting the church’s activity requires “the active participation of all the members of God’s People.”
Read the rest of Pope Francis’ letter here.
Reuters contributed to this report.