STA, 3 April 2022 - Novo Mesto Bishop Andrej Saje, the head of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference, apologised on Sunday to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy on behalf of the Catholic Church in Slovenia, as he marked the day of prayer for such victims.
Listening and hearing, protecting and providing support, both in an emotional and spiritual sense, are key factors, he said in a statement shared on the Church's website.
"No victim is to blame for the evil that was done to them and should never have happened. The full responsibility lies with the perpetrator, and I advocate zero tolerance of any abuse. I express my compassion to the victims and their families," he said.
Saje said he was aware that statements and regulations cannot heal the wounds and pain of individuals, and that unless the perpetrators, or at least those who knew of the abuses, are held accountable, it will be difficult for the victims to live freely.
The Church has made important steps in the past in detecting and sanctioning the abuses, but the road to preventing unacceptable wrongdoing is long and challenging, he said, committing to specific measures to create a safe environment.
The Church will strive for changes to its structures so that they serve people first and foremost, the protection of the person's dignity and spiritual progress, he added.
Last October, the Slovenian Bishops' Conference decided that the day of prayer and reconciliation for sexual abuse victims in the Church and society will be marked every year on Passion Sunday, which is observed today. Believers have been urged to say a prayer for the victims during the Sunday mass and, if possible, light a candle to express solidarity with them.
The Catholic advocacy group for the victims Dovolj.je (It's Enough) has been noting that the Church still needs to do more. They recently called for the inception of a properly-funded independent commission to investigate cases of suspected sex abuse by clergy.