A few days after having returned to my community in Humahuaca and having completed the quarantine imposed for travel reasons, in the context of this Covid 19 pandemic, in a fraternal conversation with Brother Bishop Felix Paredes of the Prelature of Humahuaca, he proposed to me the possibility of sharing a space of awareness with the Presbytery of the Prelature, taking into account the wealth offered by the Diploma in the Protection of Minors that I have just completed, last June, at the Gregorian University in Rome.
We agreed on a date to begin this journey as a Prelatic Church. Space was provided for this first introductory awareness-raising workshop at the meeting on 6 September; the bishop emeritus, the titular bishop, the priests, the permanent deacon and the seminarian took part, for a total of 13 participants, with the absence of two priests and one deacon who were unable to attend.
The proposed objective of this workshop was: “To raise awareness and motivation about the challenge of the protection of minors and its impact on the prophetic pastoral commitment of priests in the Prelature of Humahuaca”.
The competencies achieved, according to the openness and willingness of all to be impacted by the theme, were related to:
- The identification and recognition of the reality of the abuse of minors and persons in a state of vulnerability and its implications for the pastoral challenge of the protection of minors, from the approach to the final message of Pope Francis offered at the end of the meeting on the Protection of Minors given in February 2019.
- Awareness-raising based on their ministerial commitment to the directives of the Church, in its legislative itinerary, recognising the dimensions offered by the Pope and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as urgencies to be worked on from the pastoral care of prevention in a prophetic dynamic, in their parish and missionary environments.
- The approach to recognising in one’s own context the scourges of abuse described in Pope Francis’ February 2019 address and their serious consequences for victims, families, communities and society.
- Teamwork, contributing creative talents and cultural experiences of the theme addressed, from the message of Pope Francis; as an aid to identify and responsibly assume the commitment in this “hour” of the life of the Prelatic Church.
The attitudes experienced in the workshop were of openness, reflection, welcome, spirituality and a first glimpse, as a presbyteral group, at raising awareness of the crude reality of the abuse of minors and people in a state of vulnerability, from the pastoral reality in the Prelature, in the Church and in society, we asked ourselves and shared: What is happening with minors and vulnerable people in our pastoral contexts?
Below we illuminate the “glimpse” into this stark reality with the theme “CHURCH TODAY: THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL AS A CHURCH AND IN SOCIETY”. Pope Francis: Message at the end of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome on 24 February 2019.
The workshop groups shared and illuminated this reality based on the message of Pope Francis, echoing it with all the participants: An expanded look, description and call of the Church today on the stark reality: The 4 plagues (sexual abuse of minors, pornography, sex tourism and clericalism). Practical measures (guidelines) suggested to all in the Church by Pope Francis. Dimensions of the Pastoral Legislative Itinerary, on which we as a Church should focus: Protection of minors. Impeccable seriousness. True purification. Formation. Reinforce and verify the guidelines of the Bishops’ Conferences. Accompanying abused persons. The digital world. Sex tourism.
The conclusion of the message was echoed as a commitment and an urgent call for all, here and now: “a commitment to personal and collective conversion, and the humility to learn, listen, assist and protect the most vulnerable. A heartfelt call for the fight against the abuse of minors in all areas, sexual and otherwise, by all authorities and by all people…”.
This first workshop ended with the implementation of the commitment, developed by each one, in responsibility and openness to this path of awareness and transformation of reality. Gratitude for what has been worked on and experienced in this space of priestly formation, evaluation and prayer for the smallest and most vulnerable:
GOD THE FATHER-MOTHER OF LIFE,
That you care with solicitous love for your sons and daughters,
especially the youngest and most vulnerable,
we entrust to you the lives of so many children and vulnerable adults,
who have been sexually abused, disappointing their trust and destroying their candour.
Help us to hear their cries of pain and to take responsibility for so many shattered lives.
May they find understanding and support from their communities and families, so that with the help of your grace they can heal their wounds and regain peace.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, your Son, who has shared our weaknesses in all things but sin, and lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
With love and gratitude; Beatriz Salazar Garzón, rmi Claretian Missionary Sister
Province of Latin America – Community of Humahuaca – North of Argentina