Pope Francis Describes Clerical Sex Abuse in a Book Preface
By Mei Manuel, February 16, 2017 16:02 PM
In a preface for a new book depicting clerical sexual abuse, Pope Francis has described clerical sex abuse as 'diabolic sacrifice' and asked: 'How does a priest in the service of Christ and his church manage to provoke so much evil?'
The book in question, entitled I Forgive You, Father was written by a former Swiss priest Daniel Pittet, who was a victim of clerical sex abuse when he was just an eight-year-old altar boy.
The Rome-based Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, yesterday published the full preface in a front page article in which explained the background to Pittet's story.
During an audience with Pope Francis two years ago, Pittet told the Pope how he was abused for four years.
Pittet claims that the Pope listened to his story in tears before encouraging the 57-year-old former priest to tell the story more widely.
'For anyone who has been the victim of a paedophile it is very difficult to recount what happened to them, to describe still existing traumas many years later. For that reason, Daniel Pittet's testimony is necessary, precious and courageous', Pope Francis writes in the preface cited by the Irish Times.
'I am glad that people can today read his witness and discover for themselves the extent to which evil can enter into the heart of a servant of the Church.'
On the subject of clerical abuse, the Pope writes: 'How does a priest in the service of Christ and his Church manage to provoke so much evil? Having consecrated his life so that he might lead children to God, how does he end up devouring them in what I have called "a diabolic sacrifice" which destroys both the victim and the life of the Church? Some victims have even taken their own lives.'
Like his previous speeches about the issue, Pope Francis quotes Matthew 18:6, that for anyone who harms a child, 'it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea'.
The Pope emphasises the fact that Pittet chose to forgive his abuser when he finally met up with him last year, more than 40 years after the abuse.
'He opted to meet his abuser more than 40 years later, and to look him in the eye, the man who had so damaged his soul,' Francis writes. 'And he reached out his hand to him. The wounded child is today a man on his feet, fragile but on his feet. I am much struck by his words: "Many people find it hard to understand why I do not hate this man. I have forgiven him and I have built my life around that pardon."'
Pittet told La Repubblica that when he finally met his abuser, he found a 'sick old man' who did not seem to 'feel remorse for all the harm he had done'.
The former priest also suggested that senior Church officials continue to cover up for abusers. 'For that reason, the Pope's words are important,' he said. 'There are paedophiles in the parishes and even in the Church hierarchy, people who pretend nothing is happening and who move abuser priests from one church to another, as if that was going to resolve the problem. They keep their secrets and new children are abused.'
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