Q: What was your experience in the Vatican Summit on sex scandals and the protection of minors in the Church?
A: Pope Francis convened 114 presidents of bishops’ conferences, heads of Eastern Churches in communion with Rome and bishops of missionary territories, together with the heads of the male and female religious orders on Feb. 21-24, 2019 to discuss the protection of minors in the Church. The purpose of the meeting was to create awareness about the crisis and to emphasize on the need to own up responsibility for it. Vatican is serious about dealing with the crisis. The Holy Father wants to make it very clear to the bishops around the world that each one of them has to own up responsibility for this problem. In the summit there was a general feeling that Catholics were attacked unfairly and disproportionately. In his concluding speech the Holy Father clearly presented the statistics regarding alleged sexual misuse of minors. People guilty of the crime werein 73.7% of the cases a parent (the mother in 44.2% and the father in 29.5%), a relative (3.3%), a friend (3.2%), an acquaintance (3%), a teacher (2.5%). It is a phenomenon existing in every section of society, like the family, the school, sports and cultural centres and lastly in religious centres. Going by ratio, it is less in the Catholic Church. But that is no excuse for us to take shelter under. The common people put more trust in the Catholic clergy, and therefore the bishops should be more vigilant. There will be a clear motu proprio, which will put in place a task force to help the bishops’ conferences. The national bishops’ conferences may be given more power. The impacts on the victims are very significant. In future, each bishops’ conference may introduce a detailed decentralized governing system to tackle sex scandals in the Church.
Abp Andrews Thazhath