Here is the prepared text of the presentation given Feb. 23 by Nigerian Sr. Veronica Openibo, leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, at the Vatican summit on child protection. Openibo, a member of the executive board of the women's International Union of Superiors General, was one of 10 women religious participating in the summit.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and anointed me to preach good news to the poor. The Spirit has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord's year of favor." (Luke 4:18-19)
As a result of the self-understanding of her mission in the world today, the church needs to update and create new systems and practices that will promote action without fear of making mistakes. Clerical sex abuse is a crisis that has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should be the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ. The fact that many accuse the Catholic Church today of negligence is disturbing. The church must do everything possible to protect its young and vulnerable members. The focus should not to be on fear or disgrace but rather on the church's mission to serve with integrity and justice.
The mission of the church flows directly from our deepest understanding of the Incarnation. Catholic Christianity is grounded in belief in a God who chose to be one with the human world.
The self-understanding of the mission of the church must be a manifestation of the Christ we know as both human and divine. The whole of Christ's mission was to reveal who God is and who we can become. This implies a total acceptance of all that is human and all that the power of God's grace does to transform us into being witnesses of the divine. Our worldview, if Christian, must be based on respect and dignity for each human being.
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