A sadness that d(est)ói….

“I highlight, with sadness, with deep and hurt sadness, those who shield themselves in arguments that I can only describe as pathetic, pointing out data from investigations, reports, statistics on the occurrence of crimes, to excuse an institution”

It's been a year now I wrote to Ecclesia a text on the subject of pedophilia in the Catholic Church. At that time, the French report came out, on cases of abuse within this institution, since the 50s of the 20th century.

A year later, new important data from the Independent Commission, created by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, to study this topic and collect information and testimonies in our country become public.

We see daily news on the subject, in which cases are discovered; whether names are identified, more or less known and occupying positions in the Portuguese hierarchy, or not; sad and heartbreaking stories of victims are told.

Journalists do their job as best they can, I believe. And I ask you not to lower your arms, because, contrary to what many think and say, they do not have an agenda against the Church. At most, they will have an agenda against crimes and criminals. Or when corrupt politicians, judges who do not fulfill their mission, crooked sports managers and so many others are uncovered, do they not do what they should? I praise your effort and I only wish you to be truly committed, not to stick to the easiest jobs, but to investigate, as is typical of your profession, EVERYTHING.

Getting to the heart of each narrative, each fact, will not be easy, because, naturally, offenders do not want to be known and, unfortunately, but understandably, victims do not want to relive what they went through and kept, in most cases. , in the silence of their hearts, seeking to build a normality that is always in jeopardy, because it is based on what was nothing more than a violation.

There are those who refer to silence, which thus becomes “speaking” and not at all enlightening. On the other hand, the statements of some are turned into anecdotes, because they can only be laughable, they are so silly and unreasonable (and it's not even worth mentioning names, as I'm sure they identify them).

Others (few and well!) have the courage to face the TV cameras, to give interviews, to explain that they have developed correct procedures… Despite doing what is right and, I reinforce, it must be done – COMMUNICATE! - are caught in the whirlwind of criticism. And these, it is also known to many, are often motivated by internal struggles, pet hatreds, hidden revenges that hide miseries and serious sins.

Opinions, convictions, presumptions, judgments are added together. And when I refer to these ways of expressing thought, I highlight, with sadness, with deep and hurt sadness, those who hide themselves in arguments that I can only qualify as pathetic, pointing out data from investigations, reports (such as those of APAV), statistics about the occurrence of crimes, to excuse an institution, whose evangelical mission, because conferred, in the view of believers, by Christ himself, is to make Him known and, therefore, to make known His greatest teaching, proposed in the recommendation: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also ought to love one another” (John 13:34).

How is it possible to think that other crimes can excuse one of these cases? Since when can my guilt be excluded, or diminished, by the guilt of others?

Those who manifest themselves in this way have not yet realized several things, which are hard, but which must be assumed with rectitude and courage: there was (and I hope there is not currently, but I fear that it is not) a policy of covering up these situations within the Portuguese Church , Spanish, American, Australian, French, Irish, German, worldwide.

This, unfortunately, runs the risk that this attitude may correspond to an identity matrix of the institution, an institution that, from the outside, has always placed itself in the position of being a moral stronghold for all issues.

Assuming this position, the Catholic Church had the very special duty of protecting the weakest and most fragile, always with a view to restoring them to their initial dignity, which, it should be noted, never lost, but which had to be defended, with all forces, inside and outside the institution, which claims to be the safe space and total love for all. And that didn't happen.

People who did not put into practice the commandment I mentioned above, the greatest for all Catholics, in the name of this Institution, created and always desired as Holy, ended up corrupting its image. It's hard to say, but they defiled it, betraying the mission of Christ the Redeemer, that evangelical mission, which would never presuppose to demean, to degrade the most unprotected.

And when you get to the point of blaming the victims, of comparing the number of crimes, of wielding statistics, the tragedy only increases. “The others did too”, say the children to apologize, when they know they made a mistake. And what do we teach them? I know you know the answer well!

The normalization of evil only intends to transform it into good. Such an attitude in any human being is evil, but in someone who believes that he must love his neighbor as himself (James, 2:8), that love proceeds from God and that he who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7-8), it is even worse.

You cannot bear everything (as they used to say “in other times” to women who were attacked, humiliated and violated by their husbands, because that is not love)! You can't hide everything, like a tragic legacy of ages that should have ended long ago, but that persist in lurking, behind the cover of a distorted vision of right and wrong.

We all have a lot to reflect and look at ourselves. I suffer for the victims. I even suffer for the aggressors, especially those who are truly sick and should have special care.

But I don't suffer for those who excuse and hide. These make me look at the cross of Jesus and understand why he accepted it and why he suffered its weight, the tearing of His flesh, the falls, the slow and agonizing death; they make me perceive the gaze of Him and His Mother, accepting the iniquitous and excruciating death of the innocent Son. He didn't run, he didn't hide. He took up the cross and lived it, every second, for the redemption of all sinners. For me, which I am too. But that condemnation becomes more odious when He dies, over and over again, for sins like these, which make me understand the pain, death, and imponderable dimension of His sacrifice.

It said in that text written a year ago, that my mother taught me: «You know, daughter, when we do wrong and we realize that we have done it, it is an act of nobility to apologize and seek to repair the wrong we have done».

This is what I saw in all the gestures and signs of Pope Francis, who told the French that they must “assume their responsibilities to ensure that the Church is a safe home for everyone” (General Hearing, 6/10/2021).

These are the signs I want to see in the Church and in believers. Signs that make me contemplate the face of the risen Christ and hopeful, because it is in a better world that I believe, in a world where there is room for everyone, because everyone is part of the family of God.

May Our Lord have mercy, mercy and compassion on everyone, especially those who, being Catholics, feel a sadness that hurts…. If you can, feel sorry for those who, like me, have cried a lot these days, we have already questioned ourselves a lot, we already feel lost. But we look up with hope and ask the Holy Spirit to breathe, warm and enlightening, awaiting a new rainbow, “a sign of the eternal covenant between God and all living beings” (Genesis 9:16).

Oh! I do not mean, even by shadows, giraffes or elephants. Not having been endowed with the kind of intelligence that animals have, they are beings incapable of this kind of thing and could be role models for many who disdain creation…

Note: This text is the result of several sharings, with friends who, like me, feel immense sadness these days. I thank them for being a sign of God in my life, because in different ways, like me, they feel this thorn in the “top-down” gaze within the institution. Luis, Miguel, Bruno, thank you. In memory of Jorge and all my family members who bequeathed me a remarkable example of Christian life.