Reflection for Lent 2005 from the Irish Bishops’ Conference
On Ash Wednesday we pray,
Father in heaven,
the light of your truth bestows sight
to the darkness of sinful eyes.
May this season of repentance
bring us the blessing of your forgiveness
and the gift of your light
through Christ our Lord
Lent challenges Christians to learn to see things more clearly and to recognise
that we are sinners. We learn to see God’s truth, light and mercy revealed in
the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came into the world to free us from sin and death and from every evil.
In his life, God’s healing and transforming love were at work: ‘He went about
doing good, and his actions concerned primarily those who were suffering and
seeking help… He was sensitive to every human suffering, whether of the
body or of the soul’.1 We who are Christians are called to continue the
healing mission of Christ in the world. The Good Samaritan is our model.
We must not, like the priest and the Levite in the parable, pass by on the
other side, failing to see somebody’s suffering because we are too wrapped
up in our own business to notice. To be a Good Samaritan means being available
to listen, to learn, to understand and to offer wholehearted help.2
In recent years the pain of people who suffered sexual abuse as children has
at last begun to receive the public attention and understanding it deserves.
We bishops, like all members of the Church, are very painfully aware of the
dreadful betrayal of trust and the scandalous contradictions that are involved
when a child is abused by an adult. This betrayal is vastly greater when that
adult is a priest or religious. Instead of being respected and protected by
people whom they trusted, the children were used and humiliated and damaged
in unthinkable ways. All of us, bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful
have a particular responsibility to learn the deep wrong that has been done
to them, to share their pain and to help in their healing. We want to show
them that the whole Church community is appalled at what has happened to
them and wishes to listen, to understand and to help.
In this reflection, we do not attempt to address every facet of the issue
of child sexual abuse. It is our intention to publish further reflections
on other aspects of this painful and complex reality. We have learned some
lessons. We know there are more that we need to learn.
It is a clich