In this time of renewal and pastoral conversion when the Church faces the scandal and wounds of the sexual abuse inflicted on so many of God’s children everywhere, 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 was removed for reasons of anonymity, His Holiness Pope Francis wants to welcome the voice of all wounded people and show all priests who proclaim the Gospel the way that leads to authentic service of God for the benefit of all the vulnerable.
S.R.E. Card. Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap.
Testimony presented to the seminarians
“My name is …. and for years I was mistreated by a priest who I should have called “little brother” and I was his “little sister”.
I came here because I would like the “LOVEABLE TRUTH” to win. I am here also in the name of the other victims … of the children who have been deeply wounded, from whom they have stolen their childhood, purity and respect … who were betrayed and taken advantage of their boundless trust … of the children whose hearts beat, who breathe, live … But they killed them once (twice, more times)… their souls are made into little bloody pieces.
I am here because the Church is my Mother and it hurts me so much when she is hurt when she is dirty.
Adults who experienced this hypocrisy as children will never be able to erase it from their lives. 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.
I try to survive, to feel joy, but in reality it is an incredibly difficult struggle … I have dissociative identity disorder, severe complex post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), depression, anxieties, fear of people, mistakes and, I don’t sleep and if I can fall asleep in that case, I always have nightmares. Sometimes I have states, when I am “out”, I do not perceive “here” and “now”. My body remembers every single touch …
I am afraid of priests, of being in their proximity.
I haven’t been able to go to Holy Mass lately. It hurts me a lot … Church, that sacred space was my second home … and he took it away from me. I have a great desire to feel safe in church, to be able to not be afraid, but my body, emotions react in a completely different way …
I would like to ask you to protect the Church, the body of Christ!
The one that all is full of wounds and scars. Please DO NOT allow those wounds to be even deeper and new ones to occur!
You are young and strong men. CALLED! Men called by God, to serve God, and through him to people… God has called you to be his instrument among men. You have a GREAT RESPONSIBILITY! A responsibility that is not a burden, but a GIFT! Please treat it according to the example of Jesus … with HUMILITY and LOVE!
Please don’t sweep things under the carpet, because then they will start to stink, rot, and the carpet itself will decompose… Let us realize that if we hide these facts, when we shut up, we hide the dirt and thus become a COOPERATOR.
If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!
Living in the truth is living according to Jesus, seeing things through his eyes. And he did not close his eyes before sin, before sin and the sinner, but lived the TRUTH with LOVE … With the lovable truth he indicated sin and the sinner.
Please realize that you have received a huge gift. The gift of being an “alter Christus”, of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, and especially children, do not see a person in you, but Christ, Jesus, in whom they still trust without limits.
It is something HUGE and STRONG, but also very FRAGILE and VULNERABLE.
PLEASE BE A GOOD PRIEST! “
The above letter and introduction from the President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is available in the original Italian here