At the Synod on Youth today, Archbishop Anthony Fisher issued a comprehensive mea culpa for all the ways in which bishops, priests, religious and lay people have failed young people.
“Today in your presence, Holy Father, and amidst my brother bishops, I want to say sorry to young people for all the ways we’ve failed them,” the archbishop of Sydney, Australia, said at the beginning of his speech.
He spoke about the “shameful deeds of some priests, religious and lay people” have perpetrated on young people and the “terrible damage that has done.”
He highlighted the “failure of too many bishops and others to respond appropriately when abuse was identified, and to do all in their power to keep you safe” as well as the “damage thus done to the Church’s credibility and to your trust.” For all of this, he said, “I apologize.”
He apologized for the times “Catholic families, parishes and schools” have failed to preach Jesus Christ, failed to be welcoming and instead “distant or harsh,” or have not shown the “sheer joy” of being Christians.
He said sorry for the times “when you were searching for your sexual, ethnic or spiritual identity, and needed a moral compass, but found Church people unsympathetic or ambiguous.”
Archbishop Fisher, who was yesterday elected to be a member of the youth synod’s information commission, also apologized for “when we’ve sold you short” by not encouraging young people to live their baptismal call “heroically,” and provided “too little youth ministry” and support in a lonely, secular world.
He apologized for “unbeautiful and unwelcoming liturgies” that have failed to inspire, for being denied the Church’s treasury of reconciliation, adoration and other devotions, and for “poor preaching, catechesis or spiritual direction that fails to convert.”
He begged pardon for the failure to show God’s mercy, to involve young people in campaigns of Christ-centered justice, and for those families, dioceses and religious orders who “with a contraceptive mentality have given up on generating new vocations and so have not nurtured yours.”
“To any young person we have let down in these or other ways: from the bottom of my heart I apologize to you. And to the Lord I pray: Kyrie eleison,” Archbishop Fisher said.
But he called on young people to “never to give up on Jesus because of our failures” nor on the Church which they can “help make more faithful.” Never give up on the world that, with Christ’s and the Church’s help, “you can make a better place,” he said.
He also reminded young people of Jesus’ call to become missionaries in the world and be heroes for the Gospel, knowing that when lost, confused, and needing direction and sound teaching, “the young Jesus” is the eternal Way, eternal Truth and eternal Life.
Archbishop Fisher closed by recommitting himself to young people and “drawing them closer to Christ who is always there for them.”
Here below is the full text of Archbishop Fisher's intervention: