VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has shared a letter written by a clerical sexual abuse survivor with candidates preparing for the Catholic priesthood.
“For years I was mistreated by a priest who I should have called ‘little brother,’ and I was his ‘little sister,’” the letter writer said. “If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!”
Addressing priests, the abuse survivor wrote: “Please realize that you have received a huge gift. The gift of being an ‘alter Christus,’ of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, and especially children, do not see a person in you, but Christ Jesus, in whom they trust without limits.”
“It is something HUGE and STRONG, but also very FRAGILE and VULNERABLE. PLEASE BE A GOOD PRIEST!” she said.
The letter, with the survivor’s name removed, was published on the website of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) on Oct. 18.
In a brief introduction to the letter, PCPM president Cardinal Seán O’Malley said that “in this time of renewal and pastoral conversion, when the Church faces the scandal and wounds of sexual abuse inflicted on so many of God’s children everywhere, our Holy Father has received a courageous witness offered to all priests by a survivor.”
By sharing this testimony from a victim of abuse, he continued, Pope Francis “wants to welcome the voice of all wounded people and show all priests who announce the Gospel the way that leads to authentic service of God for the benefit of all the vulnerable.”
The abuse victim wrote that she was sharing her story because she would like to see “lovable truth” win out.
She said that she spoke in the name of victims, “of children who have been deeply hurt, who have had their childhood, purity, and respect stolen from them… who were betrayed and had their boundless trust taken advantage of… the children whose hearts beat, who breathe, live, but were killed once (twice, more times)… their souls made into little bloody pieces.”
“I am here because the Church is my Mother and it hurts me so much when she is hurt, when she is dirty,” the survivor said.
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