Just to reflect upon, and see what has been said by another Curial prelate, here is my translation of the homily that Marc Cardinal Ouellet gave at a penitential liturgy on Tuesday evening, in Rome’s Sant’ Ignazio de Loyola in Campo Marzio.
The symposium, which one of the participants considers to signal “a new baseline” for the Church, ended today, but in many places much of the work is now beginning. If anything, the past four days have shown the world that the Church is no longer willing to hide from the truth. Instead, it welcomes that truth and wants to show the world, as a leading example, that the truth really does set free.
While the major abuse symposium enters its final day in Rome, at home the complaints commission of the Meldpunt Seksueel Misbruik, an institution established by the Dutch Church to receive complaints of sexual abuse and deals with the initial processing of them, has called for Archbishop Wim Eijk and Cardinal Ad Simonis, current and previous archbishops of Utrecht, to apologise for the abuse suffered by nine men in the parish of St. Pancras in Albergen.
The perpetrator of the abuse, who was parish priest at time, died in 1986, but the Meldpunt sees reason to believe that Cardinal Simonis was aware of what had happened, but didn’t act against the priest. There is no proof of this claim, it must be said.
The victims considered this decision as recognition of their pain, and will now start the process of claiming financial compensation from the Church.
In light of the need for openness, honesty and truthfulness, I think the two prelates should simply and humbly apologise for what went wrong. Their own personal involvement, or lack thereof, does not play a part in that. Like Msgr. Scicluna emphasised yesterday, this is a matter of accountability. The archbishop and the cardinal now have the opportunity to lead by example. Let’s hope that an apology will indeed be forthcoming.