The Pontiff is begging victims and their families to forgive him and the Catholic church for this “horrible sin”.
Pope Francis has opened up on the sad reality of clerical sex abuse, which he refers to as a“horrible sin”.
In the preface for I Forgive You, Father, a book written by Daniel Pittet, a survivor of clergy abuse, the Pontiff confront the effects of this “absolute monstrosity”, while begging for the forgiveness of victims and their families, Huffington Post reports.
He wrote, “How can someone who devoted their life to lead children to God, end up instead to devour them in what I called ‘a diabolical sacrifice’ that destroys both the victim and the life of the Church?
Some of the victims have been driven to suicide. These deaths weigh on my heart, on my conscience and that of the whole Church. To their families, I offer my feelings of love and pain and humbly, I ask forgiveness.”
According to a translation by Italian news website, La Stampa, Pope Francis also commended the author for sharing his story and meeting the priest responsible for this “a diabolical sacrifice”.
“For those who have been victims of a pedophile it is difficult to talk about what they have been through and describe the trauma that still persist after many years. For this reason, Daniel Pittet’s testimony is necessary, treasured and courageous.
He chose to meet his tormentor forty-four years later, to look into the eyes of the man who has hurt him in the depths of his soul. He lended him his hand. The wounded child is now a standing man, fragile but standing. I’m very impressed by his words: “Many people fail to understand the fact that I do not hate him. I have forgiven him and I built my life on that forgiveness.”
I thank Daniel, because testimony like his break down the wall of silence that covered scandals and suffering, shedding light on a terrible dark area in the life of the Church. They open the way to a just mending and to the grace of reconciliation, helping pedophiles to become aware of the terrible consequences of their actions,” he said.
This is not the first time the Pope has revealed his disgust for this issue, that has rocked the Catholic church for many years.
Not only has he revealed his thoughts, he has also made several attempts to rid the church of it.
During his papacy, the Pontiff has met with victims, and created a sex abuse panel to improve child protection.
The Vatican has also arrested and defrocked a Vatican ambassador accused of the abuse.
However, there are still critics that say he has not done enough.
Do you think the Catholic church could ever get rid of clerical sex abuse?
During Pope Francis’ papacy, the Vatican has defrocked and arrested a Vatican ambassador accused of abuse.
The pope has met with victims and created a pontifical commission for the protection of minors to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. However, some critics say he hasn’t done enough to keep bishops who covered up pedophile priest scandals accountable.
During Francis’ papacy, the Vatican defrocked and arrested a Vatican ambassador accused of abuse. But under Francis, the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, has promoted a Chilean bishop whom victims claim actually witnessed a priest sexually abusing people.
The church’s failures on this issue has recently drawn attention in Australia. About 7 percent of the country’s Catholic priests had been accused of abusing children between 1950 and 2015, a study based on years of research for a formal public inquiry into abuse allegations revealed this month.
In his book, Pittet writes that his own abuse began when he was 8 years old. His parish priest in Switzerland raped him over a four-year period, before the church transferred the abuser to France, where Pittet says the man attacked other children.
The author, now aged 57, has forgiven the priest, with whom he met last year, according to America Magazine. The priest never asked for forgiveness and “didn’t seem to repent of the evil he had done,” Pittet said.
In his preface, Francis commends Pittet for his courage in coming forward with his story.
“I thank Daniel, because testimony like his break down the wall of silence that covered scandals and suffering, shedding light on a terrible dark area in the life of the Church,” the pope writes.
Pope lauds ‘courageous’ witness of abuse victim who forgave
CNA Catholic News Agency
14 February 2017by Elise Harris
.- In his preface for a book written by a survivor of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis once again lamented the “monstrosity” of the act, calling the author, Daniel Pittet, courageous for his willingness to forgive his abuser and to share his story with the world.
“For those who have been victims of a pedophile it is difficult to talk about what they have been through and describe the trauma that still persist after many years,” the Pope said in the preface, published earlier this month.
Because of this, “Daniel Pittet’s testimony is necessary, treasured and courageous.”
In his 240-page book, titled “I Forgive You, Father: Surviving a Broken Childhood,” Pittet shares the story of his difficult childhood, during which he and his siblings were shuffled around different foster homes after their parents’ separation before eventually meeting the friar who would abuse him.
At the age of nine, Pittet was lured by a Capuchin friar into the convent attached to his parish, where he would from that day be raped on a weekly basis for four years, with those around him in denial.Pittet’s book details not only the tragic suffering he endured, but also the long path he has taken to forgiveness, culminating in the civil and ecclesial recognition of his abusers’ crimes, and his own ability to move forward in building a family and a professional career.
Not only is the book unique for the author of its preface, but it ends with an interview conducted with the friar who abused Pittet, marking one of the rare occasions when a pedophile speaks publicly.
In his preface, Pope Francis thanked Pitett for sharing his story, “because testimony like his breaks down the wall of silence that covered scandals and suffering, shedding light on a terrible dark area in the life of the Church.”
These types of testimonies, he said, “open the way to a just mending and to the grace of reconciliation, helping pedophiles to become aware of the terrible consequences of their actions.”
Francis said he had originally met Pittet at the Vatican during the Year for Consecrated Life in 2015, and that the author had wanted to give heavy promotion to a book called “To Love is to Give Everything,” which was a collection of the testimonies of priests, religious and consecrated men and women.
At the time, “I could not have imagined that this enthusiastic and passionate Christian man had been the victim of abuse by a priest,” Francis said, adding that “yet this is what he told me, and his suffering struck me very much.”
In hearing Pittet’s story, the Pope said he saw once again both “the tremendous damage caused by sexual abuse” and the “long and painful journey that awaits the victims.”
“I am happy that others can read his testimony today and discover how far evil can enter the heart of a servant of the Church,” he said, asking how a priest committed to serving Christ and his Church can “cause so much harm.”
“How can someone who devoted their life to lead children to God, end up instead to devour them in what I called ‘a diabolical sacrifice’ that destroys both the victim and the life of the Church?”
Francis noted that some victims of abuse have committed suicide. “These deaths weigh on my heart, on my conscience and that of the whole Church,” he said, and, addressing their families, said “I offer my feelings of love and pain and humbly, I ask forgiveness.”
Clerical sex abuse “is an absolute monstrosity, a horrible sin, radically against everything that Christ has taught us,” the Pope said, and pointed to his June 4, 2016, motu proprio “Like a loving mother.”
In the document, in which the Pope deemed that negligence on the part of a bishop in handling cases of abuse is enough to oust him from office, it was stressed that the Church “must take care and protect with special love the weak and the helpless” with the tenderness of a mother.
“We have stated that it is our duty to be extremely strict with the priests who betray their mission, and with their hierarchy, bishops or cardinals, who might protect them, as has happened in the past,” Francis saod.
However, the Pope noted that despite the various trials Pittet endured as a child, he also “met another face of the Church, and this allowed him to not lose hope in men and in God.”
“(Pittet) tells us of the power of prayer that he has never abandoned, and that has comforted him in the darkest hours,” he said, pointing to the fact that the author chose to meet his “tormentor” 44 years later, wanting “to look into the eyes of the man who has hurt him in the depths of his soul.”
Instead of condemning the friar, Pittet “lent him his hand,” Francis said, noting that “the wounded child is now a standing man, fragile but standing.”
Pointing to a line written by Pittet in the book, the Pope said he was impressed by the author’s declaration that “many people fail to understand the fact that I do not hate him. I have forgiven him and I built my life on that forgiveness.”
Francis closed his preface saying that he prays for Pittet and “for all those who, like him, were wounded in their innocence, may God lift them and heal them, and give us all his forgiveness and mercy.”
Pope Francis seeks forgiveness from clergy abuse victims
National Catholic Reporter
13 February 2017
Pope Francis prays during a prayer vigil with youth at the Campus Misericordiae during World Youth Day in Brzegi, near Krakow, Poland, on July 30, 2016. (Photo courtesy Reuters/Stefano Rellandini)
Pope Francis has condemned clerical sex abuse as an “absolute monstrosity” and asked victims and their families for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic church.In an unusual move, the pontiff’s comments were published as a preface to a new book by Daniel Pittet, a Swiss victim who was sexually abused for four years by a priest when he was a child.”How can a priest in the service of Christ and his church cause so much evil?” the pope said. “This is an absolute monstrosity, a horrendous sin, completely opposed to what Christ teaches us.”
The pope said he had personally witnessed the damage caused by clerical abuse and it affected him deeply.
“Several victims have committed suicide. These deaths weigh on my heart and my conscience and on the whole church,” Francis said.
“To their families I send my feelings of love and heartache and humbly ask their forgiveness.”
The pontiff met Pittet, now a 57-year-old father of six, at the Vatican in 2015. In the preface published Feb. 13 by the Italian daily, La Repubblica and other media outlets, Francis said he was struck by Pittet’s personal suffering and his desire to forgive his abuser.
In a related development, Francis last week called an abuse victim in the pope’s native Argentina after the man’s cousin wrote to the pope explaining how Rufino Varela, now 52, had been abused by a priest for years while in high school.
Varela wrote on his Facebook page that the conversation, which lasted several minutes, gave him “a lot of hope!”
According to a report on the Catholic news site Crux, Varela said Francis had apologized in the name of the church for what he had experienced. He said he told the pope about feeling abandoned by the church and the media, and about the vulnerability of other survivors.
Pittet’s book is entitled La Perdono, Padre (They forgive you, Father) and recounts his abuse from the age of eight, his many years of therapy and his forgiveness of the priest who allegedly abused him and other children.
“I thank Daniel because accounts like his break down the wall of silence that has suffocated scandals and suffering and expose a terrible shadow on the life of the church.”
The pope said his action was an important step towards reconciliation and for pedophiles to take account of “the terrible consequences of their actions.”
Over the past 15 years the Catholic church has been rocked by revelations of clergy sex abuse scandals in a crisis that has spread from U.S. and Ireland to Belgium, Australia and increasingly to other countries.
Last week an Australian government inquiry into institutional abuse heard over 4,440 Australians claimed to have been victims of church abuse between 1980 and 2015.
After a slow and often halting response, the Vatican has stepped up its efforts to address the crisis.
Francis has gone further than his predecessors in this regard, setting up a special commission to combat the abuse of children in the church that includes a victim, and establishing a Vatican tribunal for judging bishops accused of protecting abusers.
The pope in the preface to the book reiterated his commitment to holding churchmen accountable, saying “it is our duty to be extremely strict with the priests who betray their mission, and with their hierarchy, bishops or cardinals, who might protect them, as has happened in the past.”
But victims groups in the U.S. and elsewhere have expressed deep skepticism about the pope’s policies and say the Vatican simply needs to punish both abusers and their protectors.