Vat­i­can ‘owes God an apol­ogy’ for con­duct

Calgary Herald - - CANADA - Holly mCKen­zie-sut­ter

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. • The prom­i­nent founder of a New­found­land or­ga­ni­za­tion for clergy abuse sur­vivors has writ­ten a let­ter to Pope Fran­cis, say­ing the Vat­i­can “owes God an apol­ogy” for mis­man­age­ment of abuse al­le­ga­tions.

“I re­al­ize you in­her­ited this prob­lem, but the way the Vat­i­can mis­man­aged this cri­sis is dis­grace­ful,” wrote Gemma Hickey, founder of Path­ways Foun­da­tion in St. John’s, N.L.

New­found­land and Labrador was the site of two highly pub­li­cized abuse scan­dals in the late 1980s, when al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread abuse at Mount Cashel and Belvedere Catholic or­phan­ages met with public shock and out­rage.

Sto­ries of sim­i­lar hor­rors soon be­gan to sur­face around the world.

But Hickey, a clergy abuse sur­vivor, said the prov­ince has not had a “pas­toral visit” since 1984, be­fore Mount Cashel be­came an in­fa­mous house­hold name.

Hickey felt com­pelled to write the let­ter af­ter an Au­gust re­port doc­u­mented the sex­ual abuse of more than 1,000 chil­dren in six Penn­syl­va­nia dio­ce­ses over a 70-year pe­riod and af­ter hear­ing the re­cent al­le­ga­tion that Pope Fran­cis had prior knowl­edge of mis­con­duct by a U.S. bishop.

Fran­cis is­sued a 2,000-word state­ment ad­dress­ing the Penn­syl­va­nia re­port that said the church “aban­doned” the chil­dren af­fected and asked for for­give­ness.

But, said Hickey: “In or­der to move for­ward, I be­lieve the Vat­i­can must take full re­spon­si­bil­ity be­fore a plea for for­give­ness can be con­sid­ered.”

Hickey said the Vat­i­can’s re­sponse ig­nored ex­ten­sive dam­age to com­mu­ni­ties and ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment Fran­cis’ widely cir­cu­lated let­ter did not ad­dress the Penn­syl­va­nia cases.

“I view this as the ab­ject fail­ure of the Vat­i­can to ac­knowl­edge that ac­tual peo­ple in ac­tual com­mu­ni­ties with spe­cific his­to­ries were shat­tered and bru­tally harmed at the hands of preda­cious priests and the bish­ops who pro­tected them,” Hickey wrote.

The let­ter also de­tailed Hickey’s jour­ney to a “min­istry in the shape of ac­tivism,” in­clud­ing found­ing Path­ways to con­nect with other sur­vivors, and walk­ing across New­found­land in 2015 for cler­i­cal abuse vic­tims.

Hickey wrote that dam­age from the abuse is on­go­ing, but grap­pling with the past has cre­ated the op­por­tu­nity to ad­vo­cate for change.

“I have for­given the pri­est who abused me, as the is­sue of cler­i­cal abuse is larger than him and me,” Hickey wrote.

“Your Ho­li­ness, just as I made a choice to re­spond dif­fer­ently to my ex­pe­ri­ence surely you have the ca­pac­ity to re­spond dif­fer­ently to this global cri­sis.”

Hickey’s let­ter in­vited the Pope to talk ei­ther by phone or in per­son. Since mail­ing the let­ter Sept. 12, Hickey has not re­ceived a re­sponse.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.