February 20, 2019 — Speaking with one voice in anticipation of the Vatican summit on the clerical sexual abuse crisis, the heads of Catholic religious orders around the world apologized to victims of abuse and vowed to continue cooperating with Pope Francis to build a “culture of safeguarding” in a joint statement released Tuesday.
Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, is president of the Union of Superiors General.
“We need a different culture in the Church and in our wider society. We need a culture where children are treasured and where safeguarding is promoted,” the statement says. “We still need conversion and we want to change. We want to act with humility. We want to see our blind spots. We want to name any abuse of power. We commit to engage in a journey with those we serve, moving forward with transparency and trust, honesty and sincere repentance.”
Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, will be attending the summit in Rome as the president of the Union of Superiors General. He and his fellow superiors general are committed to implement what is decided at the meeting, the statement says. “A three-day meeting is a short time. However, we believe that with the winds of change blowing through our Church and with goodwill on all sides, important processes and structures of accountability can be started and the ones already in place can be supported,” the statement says.
The statement emphasizes how a culture of safeguarding the vulnerable must permeate throughout everything that religious communities do, from running schools and hospitals to the formation of their members to spiritual support for those who have been harmed by abuse.
Over the past few months, in the name of pastoral care for the victims of abuse and increased institutional transparency, the Jesuit provinces of the United States have released the names of Jesuits credibly accused of abuse of a minor or a vulnerable adult. Anyone who has felt victimized by a Jesuit is encouraged to contact any of the provinces’ victim advocacy coordinators. (Click for contact information for the Northeast, Maryland, Central and Southern, Midwest, and West Provinces.)
“As the meeting on safeguarding starts, we ask pardon of all for our failures and repeat that we stand with the Holy Father,” the statement concludes. “We commit our efforts to working with him so that the Church can move forward in a coherent, credible and unified way, a way that is genuinely healing, truly renewed, with new eyes to see and new ears to hear.”