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Candles are lit during mass in a Church in France Candles are lit during mass in a Church in France  (AFP or licensors)

Church sex abuse: A letter from a survivor

A survivor addresses seminarians through a letter, in which she shares her pain from her past as well as her hopes for the future of the entire Church.

VATICAN NEWS

The Vatican's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has released a letter written to seminarians by a victim of clerical sexual abuse. 

The letter, published on the Pontifical Commission's website, is written in Italian.  Cardinal Seán O'Malley, President of Commission,  presents the letter with a couple of lines of introduction, President of the Pontifical Commission.

He writes: 

In this time of renewal and pastoral conversion in which the Church faces the scandal and wounds of sexual abuse inflicted everywhere on so many of God's children, our Holy Father has received a courageous witness offered to all priests by a survivor.

By sharing this testimony, offered to us by a victim whose name has been withheld for reasons of anonymity, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to welcome the voice of all wounded people and to show all priests who proclaim the Gospel the way to the authentic service of God for the benefit of all the vulnerable.

Testimony presented to seminarians

Addressing her letter to seminarians, the survivor begins by stating that she has chosen to write on behalf of all those who have suffered in a similar manner.  She explains that she is here "because the Church is my Mother, and it hurts me so much when she is wounded".

"Adults who experienced this hypocrisy as children will never be able to erase it from their lives", she warns, adding that "they may forget about it for a while, try to forgive, try to live a full life, but the scars will remain on their souls, they will not disappear".

After explaining the numerous mental struggles she faces daily as a consequence of her abuse, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, she states "I am afraid of priests, of being in their vicinity".

The survivor asks that the Church "that is so full of wounds and scars" be protected. "Please do not allow those wounds to be even deeper and new ones to occur", she says.

The survivor then stresses to the seminarians that they are "young and strong men called by God to serve God, and through Him, the people". 

"Please don't sweep things under the carpet", she continues, when we sweep and hide facts we ourselves become cooperators. "If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!", she explains. 

Finally, she pleads, "please, be a good priest". 

19 October 2021, 15:47