By Vatican News
In her address, Dr Linda Ghisoni, the Undersecretary for the Laity at the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, said:
I believe that through active reciprocal listening, we commit ourselves to work so that in the future we no longer need another crisis-mode event such as this meeting: that the Church, the People of God, might competently, responsibly and lovingly take care of the persons who have been affected by what has happened so that prevention does not end up being an idealized plan but might become a normal pastoral attitude.
Dr Ghisoni’s talk was focused on the Day 2 theme of “accountability”. In the first part of her speech, Ghisoni spoke of “knowledge of abuse and the extent of abuse” as the fundamental starting point for accountability. However, accountability must also involve a dialogue concerning decisions made, including “evaluating and reporting” the decisions of church leaders. Accountability in the Church, she said, is not so much a question of sociological norms, but of the theological concept of communion.
This, she continued, leads to a number of theological questions, revolving around the roles of every member of the People of God, who must live out their baptismal rights and responsibilities, according to their various conditions and states of life. Here she mentioned the importance of a correct understanding of the ordained ministry, and especially the relationship between Bishops and priests.
The vision of the Church as communion – rooted in the teaching of Vatican II – also implies the need for interaction between various charisms and ministries, and calls for the participation of the whole People of God, in a dynamic way.
The final section of Dr Ghisoni’s talk dealt with practical suggestions for fostering accountability in the Church. This begins, she said, with knowledge and continued study of proven techniques.
She also offered a number of concrete suggestions: national guidelines to procedures for accountability, including independent councils to provide Bishops with feedback; the possibility of a central office that would promote such bodies, and help them function properly; and a revision of the legislation on maintaining secrecy in ecclesial affairs. On this latter point, Dr Ghisoni insisted that greater transparency must be balanced with the right of transparency.
“The considerations just mentioned, regarding possible actions to be taken as Church, as People of God, in communion and with shared responsibility,” she concluded, “constitute nothing else but a strong invitation to reflection and transversal exchange, above all in working groups, in order to solicit concrete understandings and applications.”