Today, April 8th 2021, marked the beginning of Harvard’s landmark global symposium entitled “Faith and Flourishing Strategies for Preventing and Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse.” On this first day alone, over 2,000 individuals from around the world, including religious leaders from various faith communtiies, specialists and academics in multiple fields, and lay people from all walks of life tuned in to participate in this inaugural event.
To commence this symposium, the President of TutelaMinorum, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, offered opening remarks and blessings highlighting the importance of this Interfaith Symposium. Underscoring the Cardinal’s message is his conviction that the mission of protecting youth and vulnerable persons is not a task of a singular insititution. Instead, it is a shared human responsibility, demanding the coming together of all faith communities, professions, and convictions in order to both provide justice for those who have been victims of abuse and also, discover new avenues through which the larger communties in which they are embedded can ultimately heal alongside with them. Over the next three days, it is exactly this communal spirit of listening and learning from those who have been abused, alongside the sharing of a diversity of reflections offered by experts in the field of Child Protection, that this Symposium hopes to begin a new conversation on how to best heal and prevent child sexual abuse around the world.
Beyond Cardinal O’Malley’s own remarks, His Holiness Pope Francis also wrote to the Cardinal in his position as Archbishop of Boston where the event is taking place, expressing a deep sense of gratitude and offering his own blessings for this event. In a message addressed to Cardinal O’Malley, the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin writes on behalf of Pope Francis:
“His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn of the International Symposium on “Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Prevention and Healing Child Sexual Abuse”, to be held at Harvard University on 8-10 April next. He trusts that, by bringing together Religious Leaders, Scholars, and experts from various fields in order to share research, clinical and pastoral experiences and best practices, the Symposium will contribute to a greater awareness of the gravity and extent of child sexual abuse and promote more effective cooperation at every level of society in eradicating this profound evil. He likewise expresses gratitude for the continuing efforts being made to ensure the welfare of all God’s children and to restore dignity and hope to the survivors of abuse. To those taking part in the Symposium, His Holiness sends prayerful good wishes for the proceedings.”
To follow the unique format of this event throughout the next three days, click here. The presentations will be available to stream from the linked page each day at 12:00 AM, for all participants to view on-demand.