August 24, 2018 — In a letter released today, Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa addressed all members of the Society of Jesus and lay collaborators of the Society’s mission regarding the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. (Read the full text of the letter here.)
“Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Way, we ask the Lord for ‘growing sorrow and shame’ in the face of the suffering caused by so many abuses,” Fr. Sosa wrote in his letter, which is also available in Spanish and French. “We ask the Lord to accompany us in a real process of personal and institutional conversion.”
Fr. Sosa emphasized the contrition and call to reform expressed in Pope Francis’ “Letter to the People of God,” in which the Jesuit pope wrote that “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
“The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way,” Pope Francis wrote. “While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.”
Responding to the pope’s call for change, Fr. Sosa wrote, “The content of the letter from Pope Francis … confirms for us the mandate of General Congregation 36 to continue working, at all levels of the Society, to promote a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors and for adults in situations of vulnerability. … Our way of proceeding links us in a special way with the Holy Father for the greater service of the Church. For our part, let us do everything possible to collaborate in healing this situation in the Church.”
In the United States, the policies and procedures implemented by the Society of Jesus are accredited by Praesidium, Inc., a national organization that works with religious and other institutions to establish and maintain rigorous standards for protecting children and vulnerable adults. In addition, each province conducts thorough background checks of all Jesuits to identify any past behavior that might suggest future misconduct. Each province has enhanced screening procedures for all applicants, including criminal background checks.
In his letter, the Superior General also requested that Jesuits promote in new ways “a culture of protection of minors and vulnerable persons.”
“We ask the Lord to accompany us in a real process of personal and institutional conversion. We ask that he help us not to flag in our efforts to promote a new culture of life in which all human beings find protection, justice, and dignity.”