Pope Francis wrote an open letter on August 20, 2018 to apologize for sexual abuse of children by priests.
It is not enough.
My name is John Swales. As a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, I have written an open letter in response to the Pope.
I am only one voice. I do not presume to speak for anyone else. Imagine what might happen if we all speak directly to Pope Francis about the devastation of our lives with a demand for action. There is power in our numbers. Your experience matters and your voice deserves to be heard.
We won't know unless we try.
I invite you, the hundreds of thousands of my sisters and brothers all over the world to add your voices. Write your own letter. If you share it with us, we will post it here. Encourage your family members and friends to write letters too, they have also suffered. Every life matters. Every voice counts.
We want action now.
Three proposed actions for Pope Francis:
1. Direct non-offending priests and bishops to visit every (willing) family in their parish that has suffered sexual abuse by priests or clergy. Listen silently to their stories. Believe them. Tell them you are sorry.
2. Stop forcing survivors to file legal cases for compensation. Ask families and communities what they need to heal - give them everything they ask for. Remember that all of your wealth comes from the people. It's time to give it back. Go to any length for healing.
3. As a Canadian, I feel compelled to ask that you publicly acknowledge the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools in Canada. Acknowledge and apologize for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of Indigenous peoples by priests and nuns.
You may think 'the Church will never take these actions'. That's no reason not to propose them, or to participate. Join us. Let's set our expectations for change high.
To the global community of survivors:
You can support these actions and/or propose others:
Write your own letter - send it to us and we will post it*
Tweet your support #dearpopefrancisACT @3actions4pope
Tell us what you are working on - we will support you.
* please note that we won't post letters that promote hate or violence of any kind
Photo by Nacho Arteago @nachoarteaga