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Honesty and courage to fight the abuses

· At the General Audience, the Pope speaks of his visit to Ireland ·

Pope Francis returned to express “pain” and “bitterness” for the sufferings caused by the scandals of abuses carried out by some members of the Church. During the General Audience on Wednesday 29 August, dedicated to the recent visit to Ireland Saturday and Sunday 25-26 August, the Pontiff remembered in particular the meeting he had in the Dublin nunciature with the eight “survivors” which left a “profound mark” on his spirit, and reiterating to have asked several times “the Lord for forgiveness for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal they have caused”.

Speaking to the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope wanted to emphasize that the Irish Bishops “have undertaken a serious journey of purification and reconciliation with those who have suffered abuse, and with the help of the national authorities they have established a stringent set of norms to guarantee the safety of young people”. For his part, Pope Francis promised that he had “encouraged them in their effort to remedy past failings with honesty and courage, trusting in the Lord’s promises and counting on the deep faith of Irish people, in order to begin a season of renewal in the Church in Ireland”. Adding a few spontaneous remarks to his prepared text, he spoke of a country where “there is faith, there is the people of faith, a faith with great roots”, even though “there are few vocations to the priesthood”. Hence it is necessary to “pray that the Lord send holy priests to Ireland, that he send new vocations”.

As far as other themes touched on during the journey, the Pope reiterated that his presence in the country “was meant above all to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission”. After having thanked the civilian and ecclesiastical authorities for the work undertaken, he retraced the most significant steps of the pilgrimage, remarking that “the culminating moment of my visit was the great bestival of families on Saturday evening, in the Dublin stadium, followed by Mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday”.

He recounted that especially during the vigil, “we listened to the very touching witness of families”. And in this way, “the value of intergenerationl communication and the specific role of grandparents in strengthening family ties and passing on the treasure of faith stood out”. To this idea, Pope Francis repeated that grandparents “are wisdom, they are the memory of the people, the memories of families”. And therefore, “young people and children must talk to their grandparents in order to continue history”.

In conclusion, after having recalled the significance of the pause for prayer at the Shrine in Knock, from where he addressed “a cordial greeting” to the people of Northern Ireland, encouraging “the process of reconciliation, peacmaking, friendship and ecumenical cooperation”, Pope Francis confirmed that the Dublin meeting “was a prophetic, comforing experience, shared by many families committed to the Gospel way of marriage and to family life”. And if today it is “in fashion” to speak most of all about divorce, the Pope reaffirmed that “the ideal is not separation. The ideal is not the breakup of the family. The ideal is the united family”.

After the Catechesis, greeting the groups of faithful present, the Pontiff recalled that on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will be celebrated, dedicating special attention to the issue of water, a primary good to protect and to make available to all.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 23, 2018

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