No apology in Synod of Bishops on youth final document

A direct apology for the sexual abuse crisis was not included in the Synod of Bishops on Youth final document, because some countries were yet to appreciate the severity of the problem, said Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli.

A member of the 12-person committee responsible for drafting the document, Archbishop Comensoli said while countries like Australia now understood how widespread and destructive the crisis had been, other countries were still coming to terms with the revelations, reported Crux.

“Certain parts of the church in the world are just coming to understand what it means to take a position of zero tolerance (in response to sexual abuse), and the synod is a reflection of the Church throughout the world,” Archbishop Comensoli told Crux.

“It’s not just Australia, it’s not just the United States, it’s not just Germany, or Chile or where the manifestations of abuse have been most intensely felt. Those are things that other parts of the world are still coming towards, and that’s part of the challenge of trying to find words that are universal…and of coming to the right sort of language (in the final document) that can be acceptable for everyone.”

While a firm apology did not make it into synod final document, Archbishop Comensoli said:

“Something needed to be said (on abuse), absolutely.” According to Crux, clerical sexual abuse and the response of Church leaders was, in fact, a major talking point throughout the month-long synod, with many clergy and youth speaking out on the issue.

While abuse could often manifest itself differently around the world, Archbishop Comensoli told Crux it was vital to identify and deal with it when it occurred.

“It is happening, it needs to be dealt with, and it needs to be dealt with thoroughly and, in my language, that’s zero-tolerance.

 “I’ll certainly go back to my own people to talk about this and say that no matter what has been said in terms of the final document, how we operate in the Diocese of Melbourne is that any form of abuse - from its very early stages in grooming victims through the horrors of physical activity - is not to be tolerated at all,” he said.

Archbishop Comensoli said the issues around abuse would be dealt with in greater detail next year at a summit called by Pope Francis with the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of the Catholic Church on the, “protection of minors”.

The summit will take place at the Vatican from February 21-24, 2019.

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