Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
On 21-24 February 2019, I attended a Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome which was called for by Pope Francis for all of the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences across the world. It was likewise suggested that prior to the event, the Bishops could meet with persons who had been abused by clergy. Some asked to meet with me here in Canada and others in Rome. I thanked all of them wholeheartedly for their stories. I was deeply moved at hearing their pain and how it continues to affect their lives, their families and their communities. Their suffering reflects the mystery of the Cross of Christ that makes itself present today in many varied ways.
In addition, during the Meeting, we listened to other testimonies of victims of those traumatic abuses. One testimony touched me deeply, that of a mother who, abused as a child, had managed to rebuild the best life possible. She described how, at the birth of her first child, the pain experienced at the time of the abuse resurfaced, a pain more intimate and more intense than the very pain of giving birth. While acknowledging the suffering, she nonetheless also spoke of the experience of giving birth with the beautiful Spanish expression “dar a luz” (to give to light). As I considered the joy she felt at her newborn as well as the expression “to give to light,” I was led to consider the Pascal Mystery in a new way. This is illustrated particularly in the Gospel of John 16:21, where Jesus, in order to foretell his suffering, death and resurrection, uses the metaphor of a woman in childbirth who having endured excruciating pain, suddenly experiences immense joy at the birth of her baby. Ultimately, the memory of the pain dissolves to absolute elation as she holds her newborn child in her arms. The expression “dar a luz” reminds us of “The Light of Christ” sung three times out of the darkness at the Paschal Vigil as a sign that Christ, Light of the world, rises in glory out of the tomb in order to dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. This is the joy and the light that Easter brings. On Easter and because of Easter, new light shines through and new life comes forth.