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Pope Francis calls for ‘process of conversion’ in the Church to prevent all forms of abuse

The pope said that “the culture of death” leads to sexual abuse, the abuse of conscience, and the abuse of power

Pope Francis said Thursday that the Church is called to engage in a process of conversion and renewed formation to work to eradicate the “culture of death” and every form of abuse.

In a message to a conference on promoting child safeguarding, the pope urged the people of God to continue in “the journey of personal and community conversion.”

“It is a journey that we are called to undertake together as a Church, urged on by the pain and shame of not having always been good guardians, protecting the minors entrusted to us in our educational and social activities,” the pope said in the message published on Nov. 4.

He said that this process of conversion “urgently requires a renewed formation” for all who work in environments with minors in the Church, society, and the family.

“Only in this way, with a systematic action of preventive alliance, will it be possible to eradicate the culture of death that is the source of every form of abuse,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said that “the culture of death” leads to sexual abuse, the abuse of conscience, and the abuse of power.

Pope John Paul II popularized the phrase the “culture of death” in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, describing it as “a war of the powerful against the weak.”

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Pope Francis said that the entire community has a responsibility to safeguard minors and highlighted the contributions that younger generations can make in this renewal.

“It is especially they who ask us for a decisive step of renewal in the face of the wounds of the abuse found in their peers,” he said.

The pope’s message, signed on Oct. 21, was read aloud at the opening of the conference in Rome organized by the Safe Project — an initiative co-financed by the European Union and led by the Pope John XXIII Community in partnership with Catholic Action, the Italian Sports Center, and the University of Bologna.

“As lay associations, I urge you to persevere in this action of formation to co-responsibility, dialogue, and transparency,” Pope Francis said.

“May the protection of minors be more and more concretely an ordinary priority in the educational action of the Church; may it be the promotion of an open, reliable, and authoritative service, in firm contrast to every form of domination, violation of intimacy and complicit silence.”

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