“Breaking the silence ”
Building a culture of Safeguarding in our Provinces and Regions
Saint Ignatius calls consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity. These words came to mind when heading from the quiet woods of Dobogokö towards Budapest airport what had happened at the Conference of Safeguarding that took place from the 26th to the 29th of March.
Other ideas came into mind during that long journey. First of all, the topic of Child Protection and Safeguarding are not easy ones. The Church has made mistakes in this area and we need to acknowledge this and be humble and honest about it. A question that was raised during several parts of the conference was: "How do we break that silence that characterises this topic". We need to address it in topic in an open way, with open hearts and with enough sensibility to understand the suffering of the innocent affected by the wrongdoing of a few.
Secondly, the conference was not void of unexpected events. We were left without light during more than a day. The darkness, even if it made difficult the correct development of the conference, seemed very appropriate for the topic we were discussing. Those affected by cases of sexual abuse often find themselves surrounded by an ever increasing darkness that leaves no space for hope and recovery. Pope Francis says "these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair". But even in the depth of darkness and despair, the transforming light of God is able to shine.
Thirdly, many of the sessions came into mind. The participants had the chance to hear several experts on the topic, from real cases and how to deal with them to a communications workshop on how to communicate inside the provinces and regions and how to communicate outwards a message of hope, faith and liberation.
The conference was fortunate to have the presence of several participants from other Jesuit Conferences. "Being here with all of you has been a gift for me" said Father Lucianus Suharjanto SJ (Indonesian Province) during the closing mass, "I take many ideas and knowledge back to my Conference and I am grateful to all of you for that."
Finally, the participants worked in groups to discuss how Jesuits, during their formation, could be taught about this real issue and big concern in the Church. Many good ideas were raised. One participant said "we need not only to discuss protocols and guidelines, we need to understand what it means to lead a healthy live and transmit it to our your brothers in formation, then these unmentionable acts will not happen"
Needless to say, after these three days, a sense of consolation came from breaking a silence sometimes so present in our provinces and regions.