As we welcome 2020, there is, with all New Years, a sense of hope for good things to come. Many start the new year with a resolution in the hope of changing their lives for the better. Statistics show that a small number who report making resolutions say they have been able to keep them throughout the year. I think a person will find that there is more motivation to keep a resolution if it was made not only to themselves but to others as a way to be held accountable to their commitment. There may be a stronger motivation to stay true to a commitment when others depend on our participation and will hold us accountable. That is one benefit to joining exercise classes, bible studies or book clubs.
In January, we remain in the Season of Christmas, and we continue to celebrate the hope that Christ’s birth brings to us individually and as a community of faith. On December 21, 2016, during an audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims on Christian hope. He called Jesus the “seed of hope that God plants in the furrows of our personal and communitarian lives.” He added that “each ‘yes’ to Jesus is a seed of hope.” He spoke of the hope that comes from the birth of Christ as “a different hope, a trustworthy, visible and understandable hope, because it is founded on God…Hope never stops, it’s always on a journey and it makes us walk forward.”
Moving forward has been an ongoing process for the ministry of Safe Environment. The goals of accountability, transparency and responsibility are imperative to bring the hope of rebuilding trust in the governance and leadership of the Church. This can only happen if we stay close to the heart of Christ in all decision making in each of our unique roles as members of this Body of Christ.
For those in positions of governance and leadership, staying close to Christ is imperative when determining the best ways to show accountability and transparency. The hope that comes with being accountable and transparent is when those who have been abused, betrayed and disappointed by someone representing the Church, will know that they are believed and that there is hope for their healing.
Responsibility applies to all of us as we each have a role to play in ensuring a safe and secure environment in our churches, schools and Catholic institutions. Whether we are a volunteer who works with vulnerable populations, parishioners who attend Mass and parish activities, staff members or teachers, we have a responsibility to follow directives and policies to ensure the dignity of all people.
In Pope Francis’ words in 2016, he stated, “In becoming man, Jesus enters the world and gives humanity the strength to walk with Him and to live the present moment ‘in a new way,’ even if it’s sometimes tiring.”
The disillusionment we may feel towards individuals and towards the larger Church may continue to take its toll, but may we all be comforted in the Hope of Jesus, who will always walk with us and be our guide, especially in difficult times.