The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India held a Day of Prayer to express closeness to the victims of sexual abuse of minors and raise awareness of the problem among the faithful.
For Sister Arina Gonsalves of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, this provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the scourge of “sexual abuse” that “continues in our society, especially in the digital world” and to reiterate the Church’s “zero tolerance” policy towards the offence.
“Praying for the victims and survivors of abuse on the first Friday of Lent is a good practice to make the faithful aware of the emotional and spiritual trauma that survivors carry with them in their lives. It helps us understand that we have failed to protect and safeguard children from sexual abuse,” said the nun.
Sister Arina Gonsalves, of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
“Praying with this intention offers support to victims on their way to healing their wounds. It also helps their families to understand their feelings of hurt and disappointment. Finally, it makes our communities aware of the reality of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, which continues in our society, especially in the digital world.”
Sister Arina Gonsalves, who is also a member of the expert group for child protection of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, also highlighted what the Indian Catholic Church has already been done in this area.
“As president of the Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Oswald Gracias has framed clear guidelines regarding the sexual abuse of minors in Church-run institutions.
“He has also asked all the bishops and religious leaders of the Indian Catholic Church to implement safeguard policies and guidelines in their dioceses. He has endorsed the zero tolerance stance taken by Pope Francis.
“In all the institutions of the Archdiocese of Mumbai we follow the child protection policy required by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, approved by the Indian parliament in 2012.”