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If you read just one speech from the abuse summit, make it this one

It was the last working session before Vespers and the special penitential liturgy, and it is not too much to say she nailed it.

Alazraki’s remarks were a frank challenge and a moral lesson that cut through the mystifying jargon that has dominated so much of the talk over the past three days, and she delivered them in words a child could understand.

“We journalists know that abuse is not limited to the Catholic Church,” Alazraki said, “but you must understand that we have to be more rigorous with you than with others, by virtue of your moral role.”

In case it was needed, she illustrated the point. “Stealing, for example, is wrong, but if the one stealing is a police officer it seems more serious to us, because it is the opposite of what he or she should do, which is to protect the community from thieves.”

Alazraki spoke of the right of the faithful — and the broad public — to know the truth, and to have it from those who are responsible for their safety and especially that of their children. “I would like you to leave this hall,” Alazraki explained, “with the conviction that we journalists are neither those who abuse nor those who cover up. Our mission is to assert and defend a right, which is a right to information based on truth in order to obtain justice.”

She explained the terms of the issue before the participants, and spelled out the stakes unsparingly:

If you are against those who commit or cover up abuse, then we are on the same side. We can be allies, not enemies. We will help you to find the rotten apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones. But if you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies.

That wasn’t a threat to the bishops, it was a promise: to them and to the public.

Introducing Valentina Alazraki to the hall, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ noted that she has been on this beat for many years. When she started, Paul VI was Pope, and she has hardly missed a single papal trip since Pope St. John Paul II’s election (during whose pontificate she went to 100-104).

She’s seen it all, and she knows the score. You can be sure she knew the room she was addressing, when she said, “Behind the silence, the lack of healthy, transparent communication, quite often there is not only the fear of scandal, concern for the institution’s good name, but also money, compensation, gifts,” and graft.

Read more at Crux. 

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