Responding to the Abuse Summit – 1
Sr Veronica Openibo who challenged ‘culture of denial’ at Abuse Summit
The recent extraordinary summit on clerical sexual abuse convened by Pope Francis in Rome, and attended by Cardinals and Bishops from all over the world met with mixed reactions. While most noted that Pope Francis inherited a monumental mess and has done far more than either of his predecessors, many still felt that it failed to answer the ancient question of “Who will guard the guards?”
In this two part series, Theologian Gerry O’Hanlon tell Pat Coyle his response to the summit saying he welcomed the fact that a ‘culture of denial’ around the extent and impact of abuse, which still exists in many countries, was openly challenged. He cites the powerful address given by Nigerian nun, Sr Veronica Openibo, head of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, who challenged those present on their hypocrisy and mediocrity in responding to the crisis.
He also discusses the impact the clerical sexual abuse scandal has had on ordinary Catholics, acknowledging that for many people it is now a very painful thing to say, “I am a Catholic”. He notes that the issue has deeply impacted on so many people, and they are hurt and angry. He recalls being with the Pope here in Ireland just after Francis had met with some survivors of sexual abuse, during the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. “He was shattered”, says Gerry, “And I understood exactly how he felt, having listened to victims myself. It’s harrowing.”
He also discusses how despite all of people’s failings, Christians are still called to believe in Mercy and redemption. He explores the need to insist on justice, yet still preserve the idea that God’s mercy is available to all.