Last night before returning to Rome, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, spoke exclusively with Currents News. Among the topics, overcoming the sexual abuse crisis.
“I have a feeling that this moment is in fact the beginning of the real reform,” the Archbishop said.
His Excellency believes the ongoing clerical sex abuse crisis could be the beginning of a new era, with changes built to last.
“We have to take stock and say ‘Well, ok. Many failings. Many sins. But what is God’s will at this time and how do we move forward so that the truth of the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ, may not be distorted? But may be restored and that once again Christ will be the light of the world,” Gallagher explained.
The Archbishop was in New York City to speak at the United Nation’s General Assembly. In the midst of an ongoing sex abuse crisis that reaches all parts of the globe, he called the crimes heinous and conveyed the Church’s commitment to protecting children.
“We have to assure people,” Gallagher said. “We have to regain confidence. We have to restore moral authority, but we have to do all of this with faith. And we have to do it in humility and a spirit of penance.”
Gallagher didn’t stop at the protection of children. He also spoke to world leaders about other topics of particular concern to the church: human rights, religious persecution and the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
“Our ultimate goal is a nuclear free world,” Gallagher explained. “And we’re already seeing on a regional basis many countries coming together and saying ‘we don’t want nuclear arms.’”
The Archbishop’s intervention comes as the world holds its breath, waiting to see how sincere North Korea is about its disarmament pledge. A new report says the country is believed to have up to sixty nuclear weapons. After entering talks with the United States and South Korea, two countries protected by an inventory of thousands of warheads, the communist state says it is willing to negotiate away its advancing nuclear arsenal.
“I think what we’re moving on toward now is engaging. Engaging as best we can with those like-minded political entities that have already taken a firm position. But also we would like to engage, and are engaging, with the nuclear powers and other powers that come within the nuclear umbrella of those powers,” Gallagher said.
For 73 sessions the United Nations General Assembly has promised to make the world a better, more peaceful place. Archbishop Gallagher says leaders are listening and that the Church’s opinion can stand up against politics.
“The teaching of the Church is not something that changes with the government. It’s not something that changes because there is an election down the road. It doesn’t change because there is a shift in public opinion. We try to base what we say to the community on basic principles.”