Deborah Gyapong: Pondering Pieta in light of sexual abuse crisis

Pondering Pieta in light of sexual abuse crisis

OTTAWA (CCN)—When the rector of Rome’s Pontifical Irish College ponders the devastation left by the sexual abuse crisis in Ireland, he remembers Michelangelo’s Pieta, of “Our Lady holding her dead son.”

Msgr. Liam Bergin describes the statue, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is an image of “great brokenness” but notes that the Blessed Mother is in no hurry, as she is “holding and loving her dead son,” to give up his body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.

“We proclaim Christ who died and rose again,” he said in an interview in Ottawa, where he participated in the rededication of the Sean O’Sullivan Room on Parliament Hill Nov. 24. “We have to stay with people who are suffering.”

And that means staying with the people who have been gravely harmed by sexual abuse. “There’s no quick fix to child sexual abuse,” he said. “People have been greatly hurt and damaged.”

“They need our prayers and support,” he said. “We need to be with them and for them.”

The Irish College will be part of the “triple visitation” Pope Benedict XVI asked for in his letter last March to the Catholics of Ireland. The visitation includes seminaries, dioceses and male and female religious orders.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be visiting the Irish College in the New Year, Bergin said. Two Canadian bishops, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, have each been assigned to visit an Irish archdiocese.

“Child sexual abuse is an extraordinary crime and it is a terrible sin,” Bergin said. “That has to be stated.”

“The guilty must be brought to justice and vulnerable children taken out of harm’s way,” he said.

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