"The Sense of Liberation"
OSV: During his meeting with the U.S. bishops, the pope, quoting Chicago Cardinal Francis George [president of the U.S. bishops' conference], noted that some U.S. bishops had handled badly some of the sexual abuse cases. Many people in the media, who were skeptical before the pope, were very pleased by the trip. But they still thought, "Why haven't any of these bishops who handled cases badly been disciplined in a pubic way?"Noting that he was particularly impressed by Benedict's celebrations of the Eucharist at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium, the Vatican emissary to the States said that "I receive the impression that when [the Pope] speaks, he would like to disappear so that, through his voice, it would be Christ himself speaking to the people.
How would you respond to a question like that?
Archbishop Sambi: You need to read what is written. The pope quoted a phrase of Cardinal George referring to the past. There is a phrase to the priests in St. Patrick's in New York in which the pope, already responding to this kind of rumor, said to the priests to be in solidarity with their bishops, who will continue to repair the damage created by the sex scandal and to renovate the Church on this aspect.
So the pope did not make a reproach to the bishops of today. He said, according to the phrase of Cardinal George, that, in the past, some bishops have handled this question badly. But he recognized how the bishops of yesterday and the bishop of today are really honest and engaged in solving this problem.
OSV: So maybe those who may have made mistakes in the past recognized their mistakes and are not making those mistakes again?
Archbishop Sambi: Yes. But you have to know that almost the totality of the bishops of today have to face the consequences of mistakes that were made before they were bishops, before they were responsible. And it is not easy to spend so much of your time, of your human and psychological energy, and of the money of the diocese for mistakes that you have not committed.
There's only one example to follow: Jesus assumed on himself the sins that he did not commit, our sins.
OSV: Shortly before Pope Benedict's visit here, you said that "our primary goal with the victims is to help them heal from this very deep hurt that has been imposed on them." How do you think that goal may have been advanced by the meeting the pope had with a group of victims that happened in your home?
Archbishop Sambi: Exactly. I was present.
It was an extremely moving moment, full of emotion from every side. I think that these persons will never forget their meeting with the pope. And after the pope left, I saw on their faces and in their words and in their attitudes the sense of liberation from what they suffered.
What I want to say is this: We're helping these people who really need help -- not those who are trying to gain money with them -- but those who are trying to re-establish their confidence in love, their confidence in life, and their confidence in others and in the Church.
These five persons, as the long list of the many others that I have followed in the same way, in some way, they have found again the joy of living. One of these ladies will be married in the next month.
"And when the Lord is present on the altar after the consecration, the pope would like to disappear so the people will see Jesus Christ in the midst of them."