Friday, September 16, 2016

Awareness, prevention and determination: "This is how we will defeat pedophilia in the Church"

Prayer "is of great value in reconciling the victims of abuse with the Church and helping in some way to heal their wounds. As a Commission we are aware that first of all we need effective and practical measures to combat the scourge of sexual abuse, and our work is focused on finding solutions and on increased awareness of this terrible phenomenon. But this cannot and must not undermine or overshadow the value of prayer. Which has a value: as a Catholic, I believe that all our work should be taken forward in close connection with the Lord”, Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Filipino and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children tells AsiaNews.
The doctor is in Rome for the groups general meeting.  He joined the Commission created by Pope Francis in 2014: A psychotherapist for children and adults, he is also the pastoral counselor in his country for the care and reintegration of victims of abuse sexual. His comment on the value of prayer comes from the fact that the Commission proposed that the Pope establish an international day of prayer for the victims to be held in various countries of the world.

Full faith in the fact that God is love, Dy-Liacco tells AsiaNews, "must be the core of the rest of our work, of the as it were 'practical' part. It is essential, though of course we should never think that prayer is the only way to defeat this practice, that would be a great mistake, a mistake that, in some cases, was committed in the past".

In fact, in an attempt to avoid ineffective solutions, the Commission’s key role is to propose concrete strategies: "We have two tasks: one is to study the phenomenon and to present to the Holy Father with common guidelines that can combat pedophilia. On the other we must also develop different 'action plans', that can adapt effectively to the different cultures throughout the world. It would make little sense to propose a valid formula for all behavior, because this does not exist. Of course, there are obvious limitations that everyone must respect, but the way of being in some areas of the world is different from others. We must take of all this into account".

A first step, and a first signal of change, has already occurred during the two years of the Commission's life: "We have been and continue to be invited around the world to meet, discuss, explain. Both from a legal point of view and from the psychological and medical point of view: the episcopal conferences but also religious orders, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and all other Catholic 'agglomerations'  want to know from us the right steps to take. This aspect is very important: it shows the will to create a common network which would finally and radically eliminate abuse".

Dr. Dy-Liacco believes that there are three fundamental aspects to be put in place to carry on the work of helping end this scourge in the Church: "To raise awareness about this phenomenon, talk about it, so that is recognized as such: in many countries around the world abuse is not a topic which is discussed at the coffee machine, and this is understandable. But to stop a phenomenon you must make sure that it is discoverable and stigmatized as soon as you experience the first signs ".

The second aspect is that of education and prevention: "It is really the most important aspects of our whole battle. If we can put into practice a serious and shared plan and we can prepare all those involved to live their mission in an honest way, maybe we will be able to avoid the third and last aspect, that of intervention. In any case it is clear that this too is an essential aspect and it must be determined and transparent. There should be no passing on of responsibility, in this Pope Francis inspires us and gives us strength".

The Commission's work, the doctor concludes, "is not meeting with any real resistance. But we have registered that there is a great deal of ignorance and very little practical ability in dealing with these situations. Not only, to be honest, in the particular Churches, but also and especially in the societies that are involved. The abuse of a minor and vulnerable adult is a terrible tragedy for those who suffer the abuse and for families, but it is important to defeat the concept of silence that sometimes shrouds abuse. We have to be what the Pope described in his recent document on the issue 'As a loving mother' for these people. It is the most important and most difficult part of our work, but with God's help, we will continue to move forward".

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