The meeting in Rome for the protection of minors in the Church started on Thursday, running until Sunday. The president of every Bishops’ Conference in the world is attending, along with Superiors of Religious Orders.
The stated aim of the conference is two-fold:
- for all bishops to become aware of the tragedy of abuse and the suffering of the victims. From this will arise a strong sense of responsibility on the part of bishops, both individually and collectively and then on to the wider community of the Church.
- The Pope wants all bishops to know what they need to do, what the procedures are and what tasks need to be accomplished leading to mutual accountability at all levels of the Church.
In this way the Church’s credibility and people’s trust in the Church might be recuperated.
Cardinal Nichols is attending the conference and wrote earlier in the week to all priests requesting their prayers (see below). Bishop Alan has subsequently asked all priests in our diocese to unite their parish celebration of Holy Mass this weekend with the intentions of the Cardinal.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, I travel to Rome to take part in the meeting called by Pope Francis to address the protection of minors within the Catholic Church worldwide in the light of the abuse suffered by them within the communities of the Church. I write to ask for your prayers and those of your people, for the positive outcome of this meeting and for all survivors of such abuse who will find these days particularly difficult as so much public attention is given to this reality.
The broad themes of the meeting are those of responsibility – knowing what is to be done; accountability – the ways in which we are responsible to each other; and transparency – the determination that there are no hiding places in these matters. These are the virtues, the qualities of our life together, that need to be renewed and strengthened.
An excellent website provides detailed information about this event: www.pbc2019.org.
On Saturday evening there will be a Penitential Liturgy. I ask that at Mass on Saturday evening, you add a prayer or a comment uniting your parish to Pope Francis and all taking part in that liturgy so that together we ask the Lord’s pardon for our failings. On Sunday morning, at 8.30 UK time, we will gather in Rome for the celebration of Holy Mass, seeking the Lord’s blessings on the work accomplished and for the challenges ahead. Please do unite your parish celebration of Mass with this intention.
I am sure you will know the best ways in which to respond to these requests.
Finally, at a very personal level, please do keep me in your own prayers. These will be difficult and painful days and I need your prayers.
With my best wishes and prayers,
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster