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Pope asks forgiveness for the Church’s scandals

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 October, 2015

Pope Francis preaching at Santa MartaPope Francis on Wednesday asked forgiveness for scandals that have taken place in the Church and in the Vatican.

Speaking to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square before beginning his weekly catechesis, the Pope also mentioned recent corruption scandals that have rocked the city of Rome and its municipal administration.

He was commenting on Wednesday’s Gospel reading in which Jesus says, “Woe to the world because of scandals. For if needs be that scandals come: nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.”

“The word of Jesus today is strong: ‘Woe to the world for scandals’,” Pope Francis said. “Jesus is a realist, and said, ‘It’s inevitable that scandals happen, but woe to the one who causes those scandals.’”

“I would like, before beginning the catechesis, in the name of the Church, to ask for forgiveness for the scandals which recently have fallen both on Rome and the Vatican. I ask you for forgiveness.”

Some commentators believe the Pope was referring to among other episodes, the recent shock caused by Mgr Krzysztof Charamsa, the Polish CDF official who on the eve of the synod on the family, announced he was in a gay partnership.

However, other commentators are suggesting that the Pope was offering an apology for the unseemly row which has blown up among the synod Fathers over a letter signed by up to thirteen cardinals and leaked by Italian journalist Sandro Magister.

According to Magister, the letter highlights the prelates’ objections over the process of the synod, and dissatisfaction with the Instrumentum Laboris.

The cardinals reportedly told the Pope that changes in the synod process seem designed to “facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.”

On Tuesday, the director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, gave the following clarification regarding the publication of a “Letter to the Pope from thirteen cardinals”.

He said at least four of the Synod Fathers who were included in the list of signatories have denied their involvement (Cardinals Angelo Scola, Andre Vingt-Trois, Mauro Piacenza and Peter Erdo).

Cardinal George Pell has declared that a letter sent to the Pope was confidential and should have remained as such, and that neither the text published nor the signatories correspond to what was sent to the Pope.

“I would add that, in terms of content, the difficulties included in the letter were mentioned on Monday evening in the Synod Hall, as I have previously said, although not covered extensively or in detail,” Fr Lombardi said.

He said the Synod General Secretary and the Pope responded clearly the following morning to these issues.

“Therefore, to provide this text and this list of signatories some days later constitutes a disruption that was not intended by the signatories (at least by the most authoritative). Therefore it would be inappropriate to allow it to have any influence.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Pope Francis said in his catechesis on the family the faithful must consider the promises they make to their children when they bring them into the world.

The Pope said the greatest promise is love and he pointed out that every child trusts that he or she will be loved and cared for.

When that promise is broken, Pope Francis said, the result is a “scandal” which Jesus condemns, telling us that their angels in heaven stand in God’s presence (Mt 18:10).

Pope Francis continued his catechesis saying that the Church too, through Baptism, makes promises to its children.

He said that in experiencing human love, each child comes to sense the presence of a God who loves children, and he urged all parents and care-givers to foster this mysterious relationship by leaving room for God in their young lives.

The Pope ended his address to the faithful in the Square with a reminder that next Saturday, 17 October, is the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

He mentioned that the World Day aims to promote increased efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and discrimination, and to uphold the basic rights of all persons.

“We are all invited – he said – to make this intention our own, so that Christ’s charity may reach and uplift our poorest and most abandoned brothers and sisters”.

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