Last Saturday I woke up with news regarding two priests, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and Fr Antonio Cesar Fernandez. The former was once a Cardinal and a bishop in Washington, Newark, Metuchen now being laicised (defrocked) over charges of child abuse. The other a Salesian from Cordoba who, after 32 years in French speaking West Africa, was assassinated by Boko Haram in Burkina Faso. Two examples of priestly life, one committed to the end to the education of the youth, the other falling short of the office and responsibilities entrusted to him.
Since last Thursday, there has been a meeting of bishops and those responsible of religious congregations on the difficult issue of clerical abuse. We are only waking up to the extend in which such crime is affecting the Church. Even among our own clergy, the Abbot of Ealing resigned earlier this month for not taking seriously accusations against one of the monks in his parish and a Northampton priest was sentenced last Tuesday on account of 18 cases of abuse.
Such news saddens me greatly and I hope that the summit in the Vatican will put procedures in place which will rigorously help to identify abuse, assist with helping to bring the perpetrators to justice, and offer support to survivors and their families. On our part we have been asked to pray for the success of such meeting. On Saturday there will be a penitential liturgy and mass will be offered on Sunday. If you are interested on the proceeding of this meeting, which finishes today, please visit www.pbc2019.org
Each one of us must be committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. The details of our Safeguarding representative are clearly display in different parts of the Church. Do not hesitate to contact me or her if you have any concerns about the safety of those vulnerable members of our community, which include the elderly and those with learning difficulties. The concept of safeguarding embraces also neglect, physical, economic, emotional and, of course, sexual abuse.
With hope in a God who out of sin and death brought forth Christ, we continue in our service to society, accepting that our image has been marred. It is up to each one of us to give back to our Mother, the Church the beauty which is hers.