Pope Francis has called for all the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the world to meet at the Vatican February 21–24 to talk about the protecting of minors. Catholic News approached participating bishop and President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica for his thoughts prior to his departure. Following is the full text of his statement:
The much-anticipated Conference of the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences around the Catholic world is scheduled to take place at the Vatican in Rome from February 21–24, 2019 under the theme: Safeguarding of Minors.The Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) will be represented by its President, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of the Diocese of Roseau.
Preparation for the meeting involved gathering information from the various dioceses of the region by means of a questionnaire, on the situation regarding abuse in the region. The responses were collated and forwarded to a secure data room online to be used for discussion at the conference.
In its Preface to the questionnaire presented, the organising committee for the conference, quoting Pope Francis, states: “If one member suffers, all suffer with it” (1Cor 12:26). These were the opening words of the Pope’s letter to the People of God in August 2018 in response to the abuse crisis facing the Church.
The Pope is further quoted as saying that those abused by clerics were also damaged when “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” And so, “if, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history”.
The Committee submits that “absent of a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world. The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened.”
The forgoing is indicative of what is at stake and the level of expectation there is among the general public as regards this conference.
On behalf of the AEC Bishops, I solicit the prayerful support of clergy, religious and faithful in the region for successful deliberations and positive decisions towards the protection of the little ones and for the spiritual health of the entire people of God.
Most Rev Gabriel Malzaire
Bishop of Roseau
President of the AEC