Pope Francis, confronting sexual abuse crises in numerous countries, wrote a pioneering letter to all Catholics on Tuesday, requesting each one of them to assist in rooting out “this culture of death” and pledging there would be no more cover ups.
The Catholic Church in Chile, Australia, Ireland and the United States — where this weekend the pope is making a 2-day visit — are battered from crises concerning sexual abuse of minors.
In an incredibly personal letter addressed to “the people of God,” Church language for all affiliates, the pope seemed to be launching a petition for all Catholics to face the crisis together and not let it rip the Church apart.
Various surveys have pointed to plunging confidence in the Church in those countries and abroad.
In his letter, the pope described the agony suffered by minors due to sexual abuse at the hands of a ‘significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.’
“We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death,” the pope said.
The Vatican reported it was the 1st time a pope had penned a letter to all of the world’s Catholics (roughly 1.2 billion) about sexual abuse.
Preceding letters on sex abuse outrages have been addressed to bishops and allegiant of individual countries.
Quoting a Gospel passage that states “If one member suffers, all suffer together,” Francis included:
“(Those words) forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.
“The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
In May, all thirty-four (34) of Chile’s bishops offered their resignation to the pope over a broadening sexual abuse crisis there. He has thus far accepted five (5) of the resignations.
Last week a grand jury in Pennsylvania discharged the findings of the largest-ever investigation of sex abuse in the United States Catholic Church, discovering that 301 priests in the U.S. state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.
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