Disturbed by response to abuse scandals

Dear Editor, While the dust may have settled somewhat on the paedophile scandals, and while praise is given to some Church leaders as to how they handled the matter, I myself remain disturbed. I am looking at this matter from the religious point of view only. In all I read or heard I found a great lack of mercy. The Church’s position should have been governed by the loving kindness of God for both victims and sinners.

The dominant interest in justice is a dangerous path – which can be the enemy of mercy. Romano Guardini long ago pointed out that this (justice) is the enemy of forgiveness. That same great thinker added that where there is any question of punishment, there is no forgiveness. The Church should have shown its concern to help all in a merciful way. It should never have taken a one-sided approach!

Furthermore that same Church should always remain open to the fact that paedophiles, as other grave sinners, can religiously change, convert and repent, even if other professionals doubt this from their perspective. The power of God is immense. In fact it should be the concern of all true shepherds to bring this about.

I believe too that the Church must restore its role of being confidential. If a paedophile comes to a priest sincerely looking for help to change, and asks the priest for confidentiality, the cleric it seems to me has to grant that in love and mercy – after all he is representing Christ.

Perhaps we still have much to learn about what mercy means.

Yours etc,

James Kelly SJ,

Milltown Park, Dublin 6.