|Brazil – Formation in the affective life and in chastity|
|RMG – Fr Chávez writes a letter to the Salesians about Youth Ministry|
Referring to some statistics regarding the phenomenon of child abuse, the Rector Major expresses some perplexity regarding the current uproar in the media regarding cases of pedophilia which have occurred in the Catholic Church while on the other hand the same media often defended, fostered, and even justified a “sex culture” and a “sex industry”. With courage, however, he declares: “It is not right for us to pretend that nothing has happened or that we are dealing with matters which do not apply to us”. There are sad and painful facts for the Church and particularly for the Salesians because in them “some of the victims are children who are the very reason for our consecration, and some of the guilty are Salesians, our brothers in vocation and companions in the mission.”
In his letter Fr Chávez expresses his agreement with Benedict XVI, from whom he quotes several comments, particularly the “Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland” of March 2010. If it is true that some of the statements appear hard, on the whole they are supported by the words of the Holy Father’s who has not been afraid to recognise the instances of pedophilia and the suffering caused which ““come precisely from within the Church, from the sins existing within the Church.” A deep and sincere conversion is needed.
For this reason it is important to let the Gospel enlighten us. Referring to some passages fro the New Testament, the Rector Major notes that “the Church comes to birth not from the betrayal of one or the abandonment of them all, but from the personal faith, the courageous witness, the full-time ministry, the martyrdom of the Eleven.” The mass media, magnifying isolated cases of pedophilia, have forgotten “the great majority of priests and religious, who have lived out and continue to live out their fidelity happily and with total and freely given dedication, and who seek holiness without respite”.
The gospel allegory of the vine (Jn 15, 1-8) provides an opportunity to understand that the fidelity of the disciple is ensured by his link with Christ. If Jesus` mission consists in revealing God and his love, the only way of making him visible and credible is love for His own to the end; “a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). On this is based the Salesian mission as article 2 of the Constitutions expresses it: ““being in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for the young, especially those who are poor”.
The third part of the letter contains practical considerations. Having analysed the situation, drawing on the Gospels, the successor of Don Bosco indicates for the Salesians four steps. The first step towards conversion is “the transparent admission of responsibility,” feeling that we have been “wounded by every individual case of violence and damage to minors.” There follows “the priority of the victims,” “whose trust has been betrayed and whose personal dignity has been violated,” without forgetting the transgressors, who need to be accompanied along the path of justice, care and grace. And finally in a fourth step the prevention of abuses. Fr Chávez requests the Provinces “to draw up, in harmony with procedures spelt out by the Holy See, and to put into practice a protocol for the protection of minors, and to see that it is known and applied by Salesians and all the lay collaborators involved in our works;” he says that with the Councillor for Formation, he will assess the adequacy of the procedures for vocational discernment and determining the suitability of candidates ensuring the human, spiritual, moral and affective formation of the Salesians.
“It is my hope,” Fr Chávez concludes, “that this letter and the guidelines proposed will be useful to us all, help us return to Don Bosco and the joy of living as witnesses to an authentic culture of chastity, and inspire in us practical actions and future planning.”
The text of the Letter of the Rector Major is available in various languages on sdb.org.