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The Church Will Take No Step Backwards In Sanctions Against Child Abusers

by Pope Francis

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  • Descriptive Title:
    Pope Francis Address to the International Catholic Child Bureau
    Description:
    On April 11, 2014, Pope Francis received in audience a delegation from the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), instituted following Pope Pius XII's appeal for the defence of children following the Second World War. Since then, this organization, "born of the maternity of the Church", as Pope Francis remarked, has been committed to promoting the defence of the rights of children, also contributing to the 1989 United Nations Convention and working in constant collaboration with the Holy See in New York, Strasbourg and above all in Geneva.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Vatican, April 11, 2014

Dear friends,

I thank you for this meeting. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of children: it is a concrete and current expression of the predilection that the Lord Jesus has for them .

We can say that the BICE was born of the motherhood of the Church . In fact, it originates from Pope Pius XII intervention in defense of children in the aftermath of World War II. Since then, this organization has always been committed to promoting the protection of children's rights, and to contributing to the 1989 UN Convention. And in this his work it constantly collaborates with the Holy See offices of the in New York, in Strasbourg and especially Geneva .[moving away from script speech]…. I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children...

In our days, it is important to carry out the projects against slave - labor, against the recruitment of child soldiers and all forms of violence against children. On a positive note, we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity .

At the same time, this implies supporting the right of parents to decide the moral and religious education of their children. And in this regard I would like to express my rejection of any kind of educational experimentation with children. We cannot experiment with children and young people. The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of "only one form of thought".

[moving away from script speech] “A week ago a great teacher said to me… ‘with these education projects I don’t know if we’re sending the kids to school or a re-education camp’…”

Working for human rights presupposes the aim of fostering anthropological formation, of being well prepared on the reality of the human person, and knowing how to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media. [moving away from script speech] Obviously this does not mean we should cover them with forms of protection that are superseded today because they belong to a past culture…Not this, this is no good…we should propose the positive values of the human person the new culture…

For you, this means offering your managers and operators continuing formation on the anthropology of the child, because that is where the rights and obligations have their foundation . It is upon this that the formation of educational projects rest.

[moving away from script speech] These projects obviously must progress, mature and accommodate itself to the signs of the times always remember human identity and freedom of conscience…

Thank you again. I wish you a ‘Buon lavoro’!

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2014

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