Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Amputate to Heal, Says Vatican Prosecutor

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Amputate to Heal, Says Vatican Prosecutor

Article excerpt

When the innocence of children is "trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused, and destroyed," then "the earth becomes arid and the whole world sad," the Vatican's top sexual abuse prosecutor said May 29 in Rome.

Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna indirectly critiqued the clerical culture in which abuser priests were routinely given second chances.

Christian friendship, Scicluna said, is "submitted to the law of God," so if a member of the church is an "occasion of sin," then a believer "has no other choice ... but to cut this tie."

Weeding out abusers, Scicluna implied, is a form of "divine surgery" intended to save the body by amputating a diseased part.

Scicluna, a Maltese priest who serves as promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke as part of a eucharistic prayer service of reparation for abuse committed by priests and for healing within the church organized by students at Rome's pontifical institutions. The service took place May 29 in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Altar of the Chair of Peter.

Scicluna delivered a homily for the service. Widely considered the Vatican's top expert on the sexual abuse crisis, Scicluna rarely speaks in public--making his comments all the more significant.

Tapped by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI, to handle the canonical response to charges of sexual abuse against priests, Scicluna is widely seen as the architect of the more aggressive approach to the crisis that emerged in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after 2001.

Scicluna delivered a largely spiritual meditation on the relationship between Jesus and children, saying, "The church, the spouse of Jesus, has always had a special care and solicitude for children and the weak."

According to the fathers of the church, Scicluna said, a child was "the eloquent icon of innocence. …

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