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Abuse victim recounts meeting with Pope

Catholic World News - January 06, 2012

A woman assaulted by a Boston priest when she was 15 has described how the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the compassion of Pope Benedict during a 2008 meeting in Washington have strengthened her faith. The priest--Kelvin Iguabita--is serving a prison sentence and has been laicized.

“As we waited in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature, I fingered a pair of my mother’s rosary beads, praying to the Blessed Mother for the grace to say the ‘right thing’ to the Pope,” the victim recounted, adding:

The Pontiff entered the room, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the slight, old, humble-looking man. He was there for survivors everywhere, conveying a message of love and hope to the world and to the Church brought to its knees by the sex-abuse scandal. He knelt at the altar and prayed with us for a few moments.

When I was finally called forward for a few private moments with the Holy Father, the profound “right words” never came. Instead, I reacted in a way that a child would--with tears, the simplest, most innocent and heartfelt form of expression. My tears spoke not only for my own pain and suffering, but for the pain and suffering of each and every abused child.

The Holy Father spoke kindly to me. “I understand you are getting married soon?” he asked gently. I nodded through the tears. “My blessings on your marriage, your family and your future family.” He presented me with a beautiful white box imprinted with the Vatican seal that contained a pair of rosaries. He said, “There is hope, and I’ll be praying for you.”

Four years later, I still struggle with my faith. But, following that momentous day in Washington, I felt more hope than I had in a very long time.

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