Priests, religious and lay Spaniards with responsibilities in the Church participated this Saturday, March 2, in the first day of the Child Protection Course organized by the Theological Institute of Religious Life (ITVR), managed by the Claretian Missionaries of the Province of Santiago.
The morning started with a Mass presided by the Bishop of Astorga, Juan Antonio Menéndez, president of the Commission for the prevention and protection of minors of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (EEC), accompanied by the Superior General of the Claretian Missionaries, recently arrived in Madrid after having participated in the Meeting in Rome with Pope Francis , and the director of the ITVR, Carlos Martínez Oliveras.
On the occasion of the Gospel of the day – 'Let the children come to me' – the Bishop of Astorga stressed the need for an "attitude of care and closeness towards children and adolescents" and assured "the conviction of all to help the victims and work so that the Church is a completely safe place."
In the room of the course, Menéndez shared with the attendees how he is living the problem of abuse of minors from his position and, at the same time, explained the functioning of the Episcopal Delegation for the protection of minors and accompaniment to victims of abuse recently created in his diocese.
The reflection of the morning was given by the sociologist Javier Elzo, who divided his presentation into two moments. The first one was focused on the explanation of family models and socialization agents and their influence on children and young people (family, friends, street, Church, Internet), according to the ITVR.
The second moment was more focused on the issue of abuses in the Church and recalled the different reports made in Australia, Germany or Pennsylvania. On the question of a supposed relationship between celibacy and abuse he said that it was not clear: "The question is not celibacy itself or celibacy, but how to live sexuality in celibate and married." At the same time, she advocated a greater role for women in ecclesial responsibilities.
In the afternoon, participants were able to approach the direct testimony of the victims through the reading of a long letter in charge of Father Lino Díez, who has been accompanying the process of a woman who suffered, on the part of her parish priest, a situation of sexual abuse when she was a six-year-old girl and that lasted for three years.
Listening to the letter caused an "awe" in the assembly, as indicated by the ITVR, and the assistants asked the priest to convey his gratitude and solidarity to this person for having "opened their hearts and shared, not only the hell that happened, but the difficult process of vital reconstitution, not yet completed "
The day ended with a lecture by one of the teachers of the course, Maria Teresa Compte, president of the association for the accompaniment of victims of abuse in the Bethany Church, who explained the keys to accompanying victims based on the importance of "listening , help, therapy and family ".
In addition, Compte expressed his conviction that, despite everything, it is possible to get out of the situation if all are able to "commit themselves to putting the victim at the center of the intervention".
The ITVR for the first time imparts this Course for the Protection of Minors in collaboration with the Center for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University in which more than 50 students participate: priests, members of the consecrated life and laity with important ecclesial responsibilities (provincial , directors of the CEE, directors of educational institutions, formators, members of diocesan curia, parish priests and pastoral leaders, among others).