Valentina di Giorgio
In the context of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Journey to Hungary, he held a meeting with Religious of the Society of Jesus, whose questions he answered. One of those questions had to do with Christian love, specifically to the category of individuals who are guilty of sexual abuse.
“I would like to ask you a question on the subject of Christian love for sexual abusers,” one of those present asked. “The Gospel asks us to love, but how do we love, at the same time, people who have suffered and the aggressors? God loves everyone. He also loves them. But we? Without ever hiding anything, how do we love abusers? He asked, adding “I would like to offer compassion and the love that the Gospel asks for all, including for one’s enemy. But how is it possible?”
The question has context, as it’s precisely to the Society of Jesus that Marco Ivan Rupnik belongs, living priest accused of sexual, psychological and conscience abuses and it’s also the Society to which a deceased Jesuit belonged, which at this time is attracting the attention of the Bolivian and international press, having left a diary where he talks about the abuses perpetrated against minors: Spanish Jesuit Alfonso Pedrajas.
What did the Pope reply? “It’s not at all easy. Today we have understood that the reality of abuse is vast: there is sexual, psychological, economic abuse with migrants . . . You refer to sexual abuse. How do we approach, how do we talk with abusers for whom we feel repugnance?
Pope Francis pointed out: “Yes, they too are children of God. But, how can we love them? “Your question,” said the Pope, “is very strong.”
The Holy Father went on to say: “Yes, the abuser must be condemned, but as a brother. To condemn him must be understood as an act of charity. There is a logic, a way of loving one’s enemy, which is also expressed thus. And it’s not easy to understand it or live it. The abuser is an enemy. Each one of us feels it because we empathize with the suffering of the abused. When one feels what abuse leaves in the heart of the abused, the impression is tremendous. Even to speak with the abuser makes us sick, it’s not easy. But they too are children of God. And there is need for pastoral care. They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care. How can one do this? No, it’s not easy. You’re right.”