This file photo shows Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle kissing the relic of St. John Paul II.
The STAR/KJ Rosales, File
At historic Vatican summit, Tagle says bishops’ cover up of sexual abuse wounds victims
( - February 22, 2019 - 11:20am

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said at a landmark Vatican summit Thursday that the lack of response of bishops to victims of clergy sexual abuse inflicts wounds on them.

The abuse of minors by erring priests has inflicted wounds not only on the victims but also on their families, the clergy, the Church, the wider society, the perpetrators themselves and the bishops, Tagle said in a presentation during the three-day Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church—a historic summit on fighting child sexual abuse.

The Manila archbishop, who broke into tears at one point as he read his speech, acknowledged that “wounds have been inflicted by us, the bishops, on the victims.”

“Our lack of response to the suffering of victims, even to the point of rejecting them and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution, has injured our people, leaving a deep wound in our relationship with those we are sent to serve,” he was quoted in a Vatican News report as saying. 

Tagle said people rightly point fingers at priest who are called to have the “smell of sheep” but who run away when they find the “stench of the filth inflicted on children and vulnerable people.”

The cardinal recalled the encounter between the risen Christ and Thomas, where Jesus insisted his disciple should touch his wounds.

“Each of us and our brothers and sisters at home must take personal responsibility for bringing healing to this wound in the body of Christ and make commitment to do everything in our power to see that children are safe in our communities,” he said.

Pope demands concrete action

Pope Francis opened the landmark Vatican summit calling for “concrete measures” and handing top Catholic bishops a roadmap to tackling pedophilia in the church.

“The holy people of God look to us and expect from us not simple and predictable condemnations but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken,” he said.

Francis added: “Hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice.”

He handed out a 21-point list of “guidelines,” which included suggestions such as drawing up mandatory codes of conduct for priests, training people to spot abuse and informing police. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with reports from Agence France Presse

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