In Vatican City this morning, His Holiness Pope Francis celebrated daily mass for and with survivors of clerical sex abuse. They included six survivors from Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as a member of each of their families. Also present were the members of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors who met over the course of the weekend. In his sermon, Pope Francis expressed deep sorrow for the acts committed against victims of abuse as well as for sins of omission committed by Church leaders in not adequately tackling the issue. The Pope spoke of how deeply the whole issue has deeply troubled him personally. He said, “It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created.” He continued, saying, “You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.”
At a press conference later in the day, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, said that following mass, the group ate breakfast together at Domus Sancta Marthae. After breakfast, each of the survivors met with the Holy Father for a private personal discussion, each for about 30 minutes. Fr. Lombardi reported that reported that the survivors were “profoundly moved’ as well as positive and serene following their meetings. He said they expressed gratitude and deep emotion that their stories had been listened to by Pope Francis with such attention.
Yesterday, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met under the coordination of Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, to begin tackling issues tasked to the commission. The agenda for the meeting included: proposals for the selection and appointment of new members, to integrate the commission with representatives from other geographical areas, statutes of the Commission, the need to institute an operative Office and lastly, the possibility of organizing working groups on specific themes with the collaboration ?of specialists and other institutions.
Also yesterday, Pope Francis gave his weekly Angelus address from the Apostolic Palace high above St. Peter’s Square. Speaking to the many tens of thousands in the square, the Holy Father spoke of how the poor and downtrodden can be found everywhere in the world, even in the wealthiest places in the world. He said they are never alone and that Jesus says to them, “Come unto me.” The Pontiff also made sure to remind the crowds that the Lord’s invitation is not exclusively for the poor, but also for those who though materially wealthy, suffer from an emptiness of heart.
This past weekend, the Archdiocese of Toronto played host to the first ever Steubenville Toronto Conference, held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto. The three-day conference that was broadcast live on Salt and Light, drew over two thousand high school students for talks, prayer, music, Adoration and mass. Beginning Friday, the conference opened to music and prayer, and on Saturday, mass celebrated by His Grace Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa. A broad range of speakers from across Canada and the United States gave interactive talks that engaged the young people both on-stage and off. On the final day, Sunday mass was celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. During the conference, the Cardinal took time to talk to our own Cheridan Sanders about the event.