Communique from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan CONCERNING THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS To the P […]
Communique from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
CONCERNING THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS
To the Priests, Religious and all the Faithful of the Japanese Church:
Recently the media have reported incidents of the sexual abuse of minors among clergy in the United States. They have also published the response which the American bishops’ General Meeting has made to the problem. Deeply concerned, we too, the bishops of Japan, discussed the problem at our recent general assembly.
To abuse a defenseless child, wounding it physically and psychologically, is an appalling crime. The crime is especially grave when committed by someone the child trusts, such as a priest or a parent. Pope John Paul II has declared “…there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.” He says, “(They) have betrayed the grace of Ordination.”
At a time like this, each one of us, pastors and faithful alike, as members of the People of God, must strive more earnestly than ever to become holy and demonstrate to society that the Catholic Church is truly a sign of salvation.
While we are convinced that those who work for the Church in Japan are sincere and devoted, it is our sad duty to report that upon investigation we have found in the Japanese Church as well incidents of child abuse among priests and religious. Concerning this problem we must confess that we have not adequately fulfilled our responsibility. To those who have been harmed we promise now that we bishops will respond to the problem in all sincerity, and that any priests or religious who are guilty will be dealt with severely.
It is a duty laid on all adults to protect children and lead them to physical and spiritual maturity. Because it is her mission to follow the example of Jesus who sacrificed himself for the poor and the little ones, it is the Church’s special duty to defend and educate the young who cannot make their way through life without the protection of adults. In order then that the Church may fulfill its primary mission of service in the salvation of mankind we shall continue to promote movements to protect the rights of children. We shall spare no effort in training priests, religious and all who labor in schools and institutes devoted to the rearing and education of children.
Let us pray, all of us, with Christians everywhere, for an understanding of the grief and suffering of those who have been harmed, and ask God in his mercy to heal and restore them. Let us pray also that the Church worldwide will be given the grace and strength to come safely through these troubled times.