Ahead of “Meeting on the Protection of Minors”, the historic summit to address the issue of child abuse by the clergy to be held in the Vatican, Feb. 21-24, 2019, two major Catholic unions have issued a joint statement admitting to covering up cases of sex abuse.
“The strong sense of family in our orders and congregations — something usually so positive — can make it harder to condemn and expose abuse. It resulted in misplaced loyalty, errors of judgment, slowness to act, denial and at times, cover-up,” the women’s International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the men’s Union of Superiors General (USG) said in a joint statement issued on Feb. 19.
Many of the international groups that adhere to the declaration have repeatedly denied their involvement in cases of this type. But now they have recognised “humbly” that they “have not always acted correctly” in cases of abuse.
The document — released by the Vatican press office Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 — admits that Catholic institutions have experienced repeated cases of abuse and that, in some cases, they have looked the other way.
“We bow our heads in shame at the realisation that such abuse has taken place in our congregations and orders and in our Church. We have learned that abusers deliberately conceal their actions and behave as manipulators.”
“Our shame increases when we see that we have not realized what was happening, and that the responses of the people in authority has not been what they should have been. They have not been able to see the warning signs or they did not take them seriously.”
Regarding this meeting, although they consider that “a three-day meeting is a short time”, they consider that it can serve “to initiate important processes and create accountability structures, as well as sustain the processes and structures that already exist”.
“We still need conversion and we want to change,” it finished.
According to Spanish newspaper El País, the tardy admission feels somewhat hasty and reveals an urgent desire for media redemption.
“It appears to have forced religious leaders to align with a certain spirit of catharsis, even if it is at the eleventh hour. This is an unusual gesture to date.”