Meeting of the delegation from the Diocese of Nantes, France 

By Vatican News

Nov 29 2023

Pope Francis holds an audience with a delegation of victims of child abuse by members of the Church, and says that “abuse is a betrayal of our God-given humanity.”

Pope Francis met in on Tuesday afternoon at the Casa Santa Marta with a group of victims of child abuse committed by members of the Church.

The group came from the Diocese of Nantes, France. Religious from the Congregation of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel and the Commission for Recognition and Reparation (CRR) of the French diocese accompanied them.

The group had met earlier for two hours during the morning with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at its headquarters in the centre of Rome at the Palazzo Maffei Marescotti, where a message from the Pope was read and delivered.

It marked a moment of listening, learning, and dialogue focused on the path of testimony, memory, and prevention that they are pursuing with the local Church and the Congregation.

United in breaking the silence of abuse

“The subversion of a child’s rights through violence and abuse is a betrayal of our God-given humanity,” writes Pope Francis.

You, he recalls, like “many children and vulnerable persons” have experienced “the greatest evil in a place where you have, together with your families, sought what is true and good.”

In his message, the Pope says, “I have asked the Commission to listen to your words on my behalf and to collect your testimonies so that they may strengthen and inspire our common commitment to eradicate abuse from our Church and our communities. We can only do this together, each doing his or her part to break the silence of abuse.”

Listening to victims and survivors

As the journey together with the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel shows, the text continues, “this silence can be broken if there is an active and respectful openness within the institution itself to listen to what victims and survivors have to say. This is not always easy, and I congratulate all of you for this achievement of walking and learning together in an honest dialogue.”

Pope Francis concludes by renewing the firm commitment of the Churches in implementing and monitoring “safeguarding policies and professional standards in the formation of clergy and religious” and ensuring safe environments in schools.

He thanks the abuse survivors for their courage and strength, assuring them that they are being heard.

At the start of his message, the Pope recalls that he established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors “for you and for the many children and vulnerable persons” who have been victims of abuse. – Vatican News