CNS photo/Paul Haring
By Drew Dillingham
Catholic News Service
(Eleventh in a series)
ROME — Time has flown since I arrived in Rome almost three months ago. As my studies at the Gregorian move into weeks 9 and 10, classes have begun to place an even greater emphasis on the theological aspect of child protection and healing. For example, the title of a couple of my seminars this week were “Images of God” and “Jesus and the Children.” One of my favorite quotes from Pope Francis easily ties into these subjects.
In an interview published in America magazine in 2013, Pope Francis was asked: “What does the church need most at this historic moment?” His Holiness replied:
“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.”
To me, what is most interesting about Pope Francis’ answer was his emphasis on healing from the “ground up.” How can the church heal itself and others from the “ground up” especially in terms of protecting children and healing victims/survivors?
A child in St. Peter’s Square holds a figurine of baby Jesus for a papal blessing at the Vatican in 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
One way to build from the “ground up” is through a deeper understanding of Christ’s teachings concerning children. Throughout the Gospel there are extensive accounts of Jesus’ love and concern for children. This deep love and concern for children can provide the basis for our efforts to protect children and heal victims/survivors of child sexual abuse.
Jesus’ attitude toward children was revolutionary for his time: even his disciples rebuked the children who were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. Jesus, however, invites the children to come to him (Mt 19:13-14). He insisted children be removed from the peripheries of society and instead be placed directly in its midst (Mt 18:2). He chose to place (Read More)