“As Pope Francis says with these egregious crimes (child abuse), we’ve put service on its head.” Archbishop Charles Scicluna’s comment was an answer to a question by Tom Roberts the Executive Editor of the National Catholic Reporter.
The interview followed Archbishop Scicluna’s participation in a panel organised Feb 28-29 by the Leadership Roundtable held in Washington.
The Archbishop’s contribution to the panel of experts was one of his international commitments which were not axed because of the coronavirus crisis. His visits to China the Philippines, Mexico were all cancelled. In China, Scicluna was planned to give a week-long training to Church leaders, while in the Philippines he was asked to address the bishops of that country about child abuse. The Archbishop had been tasked by Pope Francis to go to Mexico to investigate cases of child abuse in that country.
Roberts described Archbishop Charles Scicluna as “a widely considered one of the most significant forces in revealing the truth of the sex abuse crisis.”
“People need to confront reality”
Scicluna said that “people need to confront reality with an immense sense of humility and the truth.” While noting that since 2002 progress was registered in the church in the United States he added that “it is also important that leadership examine themselves and also learn from the mistakes of others and from the mistakes of the past. That requires a lot of humility and also facing facts as they are.”
He told National Catholic Reporter that the leadership of the Church “should own up to past mistakes, even of other people in leadership, since they need to communicate their commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
“Abuse of sacred power”
Archbishop Scicluna the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people in the Church as abuse of sacred power which for him is different from the abuse of power or trust in other instances or institutions.
He explained that in the Church “we have a leadership that is based on sacred power and the tragedy is when this sacred power is not lived according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He added that “people trust the shepherds because of the sacred power, of the fact that they preside over the most sacred moments of the life of the church. …. And so, people trust their shepherds and that trust is a sacred trust. The betrayal of that trust is on a level which is not only physical and psychological, it is also spiritual.”
“Privilege to serve Jesus Christ”
Roberts asked Archbishop Scicluna whether or not he asks himself how he found himself doing this work against abuse.
Roberts wrote that Scicluna tossed back his head and laughed so hard he turned red. He paused, then answered.
“At the end of the day, it’s a privilege to serve Jesus Christ crucified in so many people and to love his spouse as she is, not as I want it to be.”
(The full interview can be accessed here)