The President and Co-President of the Focolare returned to the subject of sexual abuse by consecrated members of the Movement and asked for forgiveness from all the victims. “We must do all we can to ensure that traumas of this kind do not happen again in the future”.
Last Sunday, December 13th , at 12 noon there were several thousand people connected from all over the world for the Link Up, the customary appointment in video-conference that for over thirty years has brought together the members of the Focolare Movement. Jesús Morán and Maria Voce, respectively Co-President and President of the Focolare Movement, took the opportunity to look back at the serious and painful issue of sexual abuse of minors, in which consecrated persons of the Movement are also involved. Already in March 2019 Maria Voce had written a letter to all the members worldwide to inform them of this serious scourge.
Below is their address during the Link Up:
Jesús: Yes, unfortunately – as you rightly say – we have to admit that this scourge of abuse, not only child abuse but also abuse of authority, and other kinds of abuse, has also occurred among us. In this sense, we would like to take this opportunity of a worldwide link to ask for forgiveness wholeheartedly, sincerely, of all the people who have been victims of any form of abuse. This is the first thing we would like to say one year after that letter.
Then, as we know that this is never enough, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to the work we are doing, and that we want to improve more and more, in terms of prevention and training, so that these things don’t happen anymore, because they are so contradictory to what Chiara gave us, that they really shouldn’t happen anymore.
And then we reiterate the accompaniment of the victims, which is the most important thing and we hope to be able to do it even better, even more effectively.
Emmaus: Certainly, of course. It is a suffering that we live together, that we take on together, all together, and only together can we overcome it, because it is a great suffering for everyone.
I remember we wrote in that letter that every single case for us means a profound purification of the Movement, and we consider it as such. We accept it – and we said so – with humility and deep compassion for those who have suffered indescribable traumas perhaps because of our lack of attention, and we commit ourselves to directing or refocusing our conduct as individuals and as a Movement towards an ever more conscious and mature commitment to the safeguarding and well-being of minors in particular.
But we added at the time – we stressed this in that letter – that we must also be careful to look beyond our Movement, because of course we want to contribute to the fraternity of all, and therefore we must take on board the cry of pain of all those who suffer abuse, especially children but not only, children and young people of the world. And this attention must lead us to see all these people as the Spouse we have chosen, as Jesus forsaken. So we should feel drawn to go and console this pain and to do everything possible to ensure that traumas of this kind do not happen again in future.
This applies to the abuse of children and minors, as well as to all the other types of abuse, even of older people, disabled, of those who suffer abuse of any kind, of their rights, their personhood, and their dignity. We should feel drawn to go and love and relieve these wounds, to respond as far as possible with our attention and love for the victims, for all those who suffer, and to ensure that these traumas never happen again.
Edited by Stefania Tanesini