Pope Francis has joined the conversation about sexual abuse in the Catholic church after 1,000 victims and 300 perpetrators were identified by a grand jury investigation report in Pennsylvania. The report also revealed how the church systematically covered up the abuse over a 70-year period.
In an open letter, which is posted on Vatican News, expresses empathy early and often, for example, in this passage:
In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.
Pope Francis's letter follows one by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, when abuse in Ireland became widely known.
- Compare the two letters. In what ways are they similar and different? How might the circumstance and timing affect each approach?
- How is the letter organized? How would you describe the tone?
- Which character dimensions does Pope Francis demonstrate in his letter?