VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs a true conversion that places survivors, and not the institution, as the focus of its concern as it enacts measures to combat the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people, said Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.
Like Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, the church is need of a “Copernican revolution” where “those who have been abused do not revolve around the church but the church around them,” Archbishop Coleridge said in his homily Feb. 24 during the closing Mass of the Vatican summit on child protection.
(See a related video.)
“In discovering this, we can begin to see with their eyes and to hear with their ears; and once we do that, the world and the church begin to look quite different,” he said. “This is the necessary conversion, the true revolution and the great grace which can open for the church a new season of mission.”
While Pope Francis presided over the final Mass of the four-day summit in the Sala Regia (literally, “royal room”) of the Apostolic Palace, Archbishop Coleridge gave the homily.
Built in 1573, the palatial antechamber features frescoes depicting critical, and even tumultuous, moments in the church’s history, such as the Battle of Lepanto of 1571 and the St. Bartholomew Massacre of 1572.
Through the art, the room becomes “a place where earthly and heavenly powers meet, touched at times by infernal powers as well,” Archbishop Coleridge said. In that place, God “invites us to contemplate power.”
“Power is dangerous because it can destroy,” he said. “And in these days we have pondered how in the church, power can turn destructive when separated from service, when it is not a way of loving, when it becomes power ‘over.'”
Archbishop Coleridge warned the bishops that in giving priority to a desire to protect the church’s reputation, “we will not go unpunished.”
Those who abuse or cover up abuse use their power “not to create but to destroy, and even in the end to kill” the ones who are anointed by God, “even the weakest and most vulnerable of them,” he said.
Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” in the Sunday Gospel reading, he added, is a reminder for the church to not view as “the enemy” those who have exposed abuse and cover up in the church.
“At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them,” he said. “In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy,”
The church, the Australian archbishop said, has a mission that demands “not just words but real concrete action” that brings justice and healing to survivors, strengthens the formation of those entering the priesthood and religious life and eradicates abuse from the church.
“If we can do this and more, we will not only know the peace of the risen Lord, but we will become his peace in a mission to the ends of the earth,” Archbishop Coleridge said. “Yet we will become the peace only if we become the sacrifice.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103