Our newsletter has now too many issues to send them all in the “starting mail”. Here is a small summary of issues 5,6,7 and 11.
ISSUE 5: A SACERDOTAL PEOPLE:
“None of those taking part in our community needs to be spurred on praying. Everyone knows how important it is. I would like simply to underline one aspect to serve better.
Our prayer of Christians is not the addition of individual prayers. It is not either a prayer to be confided to a priest to become the prayer of the Church. It is the prayer of one of the members of Christ’s Body for other suffering members of Christ’s Body, for Christ Himself, the Head of his Body, and for all the members of this Body. It is the prayer of the Church, of a Community, of a sacerdotal people, that is to say of Christians articulated, organized and integrated in Christ’s unique prayer.
Our solidarity is not only human, brotherly compassion. It is our compassion for a suffering member of our Body, and therefore, it is both compassion for the poor Christ and Christ’s compassion for the poor man. If our prayer does not have to be entrusted to a priest to become the prayer of the Church, it must be presented in the Eucharist where the sacerdotal people take on their responsibility of praying people through the ministerial vocation.
Mass celebrated in Clermont, a New Parish under the protection of the Heart of Christ full of mercy, on Friday, September 29th, in communion with all those who could not join us and who prayed in other churches or at home, was a very important moment for our young community.
ISSUE 6: EARTHEN VESSELS
The latest Assembly of Bishops who met in Lourdes at the beginning of November decided not to protect any longer the priests guilty of paedophilia and to bring them, through conversion and repentance, to give themselves up to Justice.
Even if it is painful, it is safe for the Church to get to the bottom of this question.
Of course, as members of the Church, members of the body of Christ, we are particularly affected by the poverty of these priests. But let us quote an extract from the letter of John Paul II to priests for Holy Thursday 2000. This letter was sent from the Upper Room in Jerusalem. This text tells us again that despite the weakness of men faced with sin, and even if it is beyond our understanding, God goes on trusting men and calling them to place themselves in his service:
A treasure in earthen vessels
It is true that in the history of the priesthood, no less than in the history of the whole People of God, the dark presence of sin is also found. Many times, the human frailty of priests has made it hard to see in them the face of Christ. Here in the Upper Room why should this amaze us? Not only did the betrayal of Judas reach its climax here, but Peter himself had to reckon with his weakness as he heard the bitter prediction of his denial. In choosing men like the Twelve, Christ was certainly under no illusions: it was upon this human weakness that he set the sacramental seal of his presence. And Paul shows us why: “We bear this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it might be clear that this extraordinary power comes from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:7).
For all the frailties of their priests, then, the People of God have not ceased to put their faith in the power of Christ at work through their ministry. How can we fail in this regard to recall the splendid witness of Saint Francis of Assisi? Humility led him not to seek the priesthood, but in his Testament he expressed his faith in the mystery of Christ present in priests, declaring that he would turn to them even if they had persecuted him, taking no account of their sin. “And I do this”, he explained, “because the only thing I see of the flesh of the most high Son of God in this world is his most holy Body and Blood which they alone consecrate and they alone administer to others” (Fonti Francescane, No. 113).
John Paul II
Therefore, let’s support with our prayer these priests who are too poor, these adults who are victims of their own history, sometimes, themselves victims when they were children.
May our Lord, the God of all Love and of all Mercy, support them in their fight against themselves; may they be given the grace to shed new light on their lives and on the lives of the children they hurt.
May the Holy Spirit give these children discernment and may they make the distinction between the sinful humanity of our Lord’s servants and Christ’s Humanity, a gift of Love even with the sacrifice of the Cross.
ISSUE 7: ABOUT CHILD-ABUSE
An abused child, that is to say a child who was victim of physical or sexual acts of violence, of moral cruelty or of serious negligence remains often silent and does not reveal these facts. The example of this eight-year-old child who went through a big city to get help from the police station is very unusual. An abused child rarely speaks to the teacher, the educator, the doctor or to any other adult to reveal his/her secret. The adult is no longer considered as the person who can protect him/her. The child is afraid of any adult who can potentially abuse him/her. Very often abusing adults, in particular sex abusers, terrify the child: silence is imposed upon him/her and sometimes he/she is threatened with death.
Finally the child feels surprisingly guilty of what he/she is suffering. For example, the blows are considered as deserved (“I did something wrong, therefore, it’s normal for me to be hit”) and / or understood in a relationship where the child feels recognized when he/she is hit (“He hits me, therefore I exist, therefore he loves me”).
Therefore, how recognize a child who needs to be helped? Some elements can reveal abuse:
- poor schoolwork or no schoolwork at all; but also, far more rarely, too much schoolwork and a terrifying fear of getting a bad mark,
- a lack of hygiene or a pathological excess of cleanness,
- the refusal to put on a pair of shorts for physical education or swimming trunks / a swimming costume at the swimming pool,
- a lack of appetite with a loss of weight or a very important weight gain,
- extreme apathy and/or fits of violence,
- self-punishment (to hurt oneself, to bang one’s head against a wall…)
- trouble sleeping (nightmares, shouts…)
This is not an exhaustive list but it reveals far too much the trauma suffered by these children.
Here are a few figures about sexual abuse that speak for themselves:
1 girl out of 8 and 1 boy out of 10 are victims of sex abuse.
It would represent 3 pupils in a class of thirty.
It’s often in the cases of sexual abuse that silence is the heaviest; the close relations – brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts – are often gagged witnesses.
Often the mother who keeps silent in front of the ordeal of her child suffered the same violence when she was herself a child and does not dare to say something because it would reveal her own suffering…
Silence traps the child: to say nothing otherwise I will be killed, otherwise my father will be imprisoned, otherwise my mother will commit suicide, otherwise I will be separated from my brothers and sisters…
Silence gags the family… to keep at all costs the appearance of normality.
Silence of neighbours, teachers … because one never knows, one is never certain, one would not like to be in trouble and to make trouble…
We remind you that there are free, anonymous phone numbers that give the possibility to denounce these crimes and break this silence: In the United States, its territories and Canada, Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-
CHILD (1-800-422-4453); in the UK, the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) helpline service: 0808-800-5000.
Thank you for these children, and let’s pray for all the people who work in these organizations.
ISSUE 11 – JANUARY 2011: WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?
A child who is suffering is first of all a child. No matter whether he/she is white, black, Asian, Jewish, Christian or Muslim… They have all the same eyes! And yet, some adults are still making differences… as if they ignored God’s loving eyes for all…
Who is my neighbour?
And Jesus answers: To whom am I the neighbour?
The question about the origin of abused children brings up an unexpected question. For some praying members, an Arabic-sounding name is embarrassing! Emotions are strong and must be respected too. Is it the grief due to a forty-year-old past regularly resurfacing in our consciences and in our media? But if the French-sounding first name was the first name of an unbaptized child!
And if an Arabic-sounding name was the name of a Christian Berber!
And if this Muslim child was the victim of a baptized adult!
We shall just have to pray for them all because they are wounded and they are all God’s creatures, in his own image and in his own resemblance. God loves them so much that He sent his Son for them.
Therefore if some of you wanted to get in touch with us, we could confide Ali, Zahia, Malika, Nabil, Samir, Neusa and Nehia to them. Since Easter and Whit, Christ’s Spirit has been spread in all flesh.