The Sovereign Voice ITNJ Commemorative Issue - Page 43

Special attention need be given to those children, of whom Jesus Christ said: “Suffer the little ones, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) The protection and rehabilitation of individuals rescued from the evil doers was not absent from our deliberations. The Tribunal will explore ways and suggest ideas on how best to attend to this matter. Listening to the testimonies moved some present to tears. Some to anger. There were moments when one felt speechless, not simply short of words. We were brought face to face with the seriousness of the situation due to lack of action from the authorities and governments. Shocking were the stories of people in high office colluding with the criminals, and shameful how religious institutions and church leaders covered up child sex abuse. I was also dismayed to learn that of the thousands accused of child sex abuse, legal action was taken against only 4%, and of the clergy, hardly any defrocked. The opposite of that was the true reality: either covering up transgression, or closing eyes and ears, or accusing the victims, thus causing greater damage to their reputation. We realized that the mission we have committed ourselves to, or perhaps more rightly stated entrusted to us, is no small thing. As St. Paul would write in his letter to the Ephesians (6:12): “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil.” Listening to the victims, some of whom sounded confused, afraid of not being believed, haunted, and psychologically and physically destroyed. The findings of the Inquiry demand that we stand firm in defending the sacredness of the lives and human dignity of all victims, their right to restore their freedom, and their right to lead a life away from fear and shame. This requires of us to join hands with others, set a plan of action to target traffickers and abusers, while doing our best to protect and rehabilitate those saved. In closing, my personal thanks and appreciation go first to the victims and their supporters for daring to come forth and testify, and to all the assistants behind the stage, and to those who contributed of their time and means. Special thanks go to our friend Sacha Stone who worked tirelessly to see this first step accomplished. What should be next? Continue our journey, if not for God’s sake, then for the sake of those who entrusted not only their testimonies, but themselves to us. Total commitment is what is needed until, as the abused in Chile said to His Holiness Pope Francis, “ZERO tolerance about abuse and cover up becomes a reality.”