The afternoon was falling and in the midst of the penitential celebration of our first day of retreat we heard the words of forgiveness of the Congregation in the voice of the Superior General:
You have willed the founding of the Congregation to proclaim your Word of life and love to all humans. You have given us St. Anthony Mary Claret as Founder who gave the best testimony of the missionary charism as a son of the heart of Mary. He taught us that our only concern should be how we may follow you and imitate you in everything and strive solely for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind. We thank you for the witness of many missionaries who gave themselves to nourish the lives of your people. You have imprinted in our missionary charism the tenderness of the heart of your mother that flows to the littles ones who are vulnerable in the society.
However, we have failed to be on the guard to protect the little ones entrusted to our care from becoming prey to the unintegrated passions and desires of some of our brothers. We have failed to keep our hearts tender to listen to the cry of the minors and vulnerable adults whose lives were shattered by some of us who abused the power and trust they enjoyed as your disciples. We recognize that these abuses desecrate the sanctity of the other person and denigrate our own missionary vocation. As a Congregation we have not done enough to prevent these abuses from taking place because we overemphasized privacy and individual freedom, failed to implement stringent measures of reception and formation of members, and hesitated to give honest fraternal correction and firm action on erring members.
As a congregation, we ask you pardon, Lord, for failing your trust in us, for not protecting the littles ones with your tender love. We ask for your healing touch on the victims of abuse and on each one of us, our communities and the congregation. Grant us the grace and strength to be faithful to our missionary vocation.
You who live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.
Mathew Vattamattam, CMF
August 16, 2021