The Vatican’s top sexual abuse prosecutor did not mince words when condemning the abuse of children during a homily given at St Peter’s at the weekend. He warned that priests who abused children would suffer more in hell because of their sacred profession — if they failed to acknowledge their sins in time.
For once the secular media seemed to relish the sound of those unpopular words, “hell” and “damnation”.
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who serves as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke as part of a service of reparation for abuse committed by priests and for healing within the church organized by students at Rome’s pontifical institutions. The service took place in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Altar of the Chair of Peter.
Quoting a Gospel passage in which Christ said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” According to the fathers of the church, Scicluna said, a child was “the eloquent icon of innocence.”
Then, speaking of abusing priests he added:
“It would be better for them, if there crimes were their cause of death in this life because for them eternal damnation in the fires of Hell will be greater.” The Lord was clear on this that it is better to enter the Kingdom of God without a foot, eye, hand then to enter the inextinguishable fires of Hell.
Today, a profound recovery of the sense of sin is greatly needed. Unfortunately, the subject “sin” is increasingly out of fashion and displaced. Less souls would burn in hell if we acknowledged ourselves as sinners which would automatically open the doors to God’s mercy.
Scicluna contrasted the innocence of children with arrogance and careerism in the church.
“How many sins in the church [have happened] because of arrogance, insatiable ambition, abuse of power and injustices committed by those who abuse their ministry to advance their career?”, Scicluna asked.
He denounced the “futile and wretched motives of vainglory.”
The remedy to such scandals offered by God as the “Divine Surgeon,” according to Scicluna, is to “cut out [disease] in order to heal,” and to “amputate in order to restore health.”
Beyond such drastic measures, Scicluna also proposed the “preventive medicine” of solid formation for future priests, calling on them to be on fire with the faith, making them salt and light for the world.