An anniversary along the path

At first, I was a bit perplexed about how to mark the 20th anniversary of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Charter). How do you commemorate a document written to address the impact of sin? Letting the anniversary pass without notice would be like crossing to the other side of the road in the 10th chapter of Luke rather than being the Samaritan. I prayed and pondered.

By taking some time, the path to commemorate this anniversary became clear. Celebrate the grace that helps in healing by “fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror” (CCC 385) and by asserting what we are taught; that our Church “always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal” (CCC 827).

The Church teaches us to be accountable for our sin. We confess it and complete penance to improve our commitment to Jesus. This is the model our bishops followed with the Charter. By naming the failure, it does not terminate our duty to make amends. A full remedy for sin takes work. Just as our physical bodies heal from wound and then, over time, attain fuller healing; so too our spiritual healing takes more time than the initial contrition, confession and forgiveness. The past 20 years have been filled with continued efforts. Prayer for, companionship with, and increased responsiveness to abuse survivors remains our commitment. Annual audits of child and youth protection efforts remains part of our continued work. Safe Environment Training is part of our due diligence to enhance safe environments for ministry with -- and for -- the faithful.

November of 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Charter (USCCB). It is an anniversary mixed with joy and pain. Together, our path forward is clear. We walk into Advent following the light.  “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NABRE)