Pope Francis Says Sexual Abuse Scandals Have Damaged the Church

Pope Francis has set a meeting in Rome in February to tackle the crisis.

American Catholic bishops came under heavy fire from Pope Francis who pulled no punches while criticizing their approach towards the sexual abuse crisis besetting the church. In his letter sent to a number of Catholic bishops during the first week of January, the pontiff said that such crises have undermined the credibility of the church which in turn led lay Catholics to distrust the Catholic church.

The pope sent his letter to the Catholic bishops presently housed at the Mundelein Seminary in Illinois where they went for a spiritual retreat. Almost 250 bishops are within the retreat which will end on January 8. According to the pope, he too wanted to join but could not for logistical reasons. Francis instead sent Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Friar. The retreat is not a place for ordinary business, as per U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The eight-page letter was a mix of hard-nosed criticism and spiritual encouragement.

Francis said not only has the credibility of the church been diminished and undercut by these sins, but the concerned church authorities also compounded the problem by concealing or denying such crimes. He said the disunity among the bishops and pointing fingers at others has resulted in pain and mistrust among churchgoers. He understood the mind of the devout and said that such reports of crimes and sins being committed wounds the faithful. The faithful have suffered perplexity and became upset and confused.

The communique by Francis comes after American Catholics suffered one of the worst years in 2018. A well-known cardinal was forced to put down his papers on disgrace and the grand jurors put in the dock a number of Catholic clerics secretly abusing children. The pope himself was not fully immune to slander. He was urged to resign from the papacy by an erstwhile Ambassador of the Vatican.

Pope Francis has called for an international bishops’ meeting on February 21. The meet, scheduled to happen in Rome, will continue until February 24. He wants the Catholic church to manage the various scandals in a united manner. The pope, however, wants U.S. bishops to pray and cogitate about the concerned abuse crisis prior to taking the next steps to manage other difficulties besieging the church.

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