Vatican proposes plans for reparation for priestly abuse

VATICAN CITY – A leading Vatican official has proposed a worldwide program of eucharistic adoration to seek spiritual reparation for the damage caused by the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, said the initiative would involve dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries in a prayer movement to support priestly holiness.

In a particular way, the initiative will ask reparation “for the victims of grave situations of moral and sexual conduct of a very small percentage of clergy,” Cardinal Hummes said in an interview Jan. 4 with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“We are asking everyone to participate in eucharistic adoration to repair before God the damage that was done and to uphold once again the dignity of the victims,” the cardinal said.

“Yes, we wanted to think of the victims so that they feel that we are close to them. We are concerned above all with them, and it’s important to say so,” he said.

Cardinal Hummes emphasized that only a small minority of priests has been involved in sexual abuse cases.

“Not even 1 percent has anything to do with problems of moral and sexual conduct. The overwhelming majority has nothing to do with these kinds of matters,” he said.

But he added that all priests need spiritual assistance in carrying out their ministry, and that this was the general purpose of the prayer initiative.

The clergy congregation announced the spiritual program in December, saying it was being undertaken in part for the “reparation of faults.” Cardinal Hummes, in his interview, was the first to link it directly to sex abuse.

In addition to eucharistic adoration – perpetual adoration, wherever possible – the project was seeking to recruit “spiritual mothers” to pray for priests and for vocations to the priesthood. It aimed to highlight Mary’s special role as the mother of every priest.

Cardinal Hummes said the congregation hopes local church communities will establish groups of consecrated and lay Catholics who dedicate themselves to continual eucharistic adoration “in a spirit of genuine and real reparation and purification.”

He pointed out that the church always has promoted prayers for the reparation of the sins of all people.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.