‘Scourge of abuse, internal attacks’ mark Pope Francis sixth year in office

A sunset after a day of rain illuminates the cobblestones near the Vatican in Rome March 5, 2018. Pope Francis' sixth anniversary as pope is March 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)  

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics cannot place blame for the sexual abuse crisis on "those who came before us" in an attempt "to present ourselves as 'pure,'" said the editorial director of the Vatican media outlets.

The church today must ask God to free it from evil, said Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication.

Advertisement

On the eve of Pope Francis' sixth anniversary as pope -- he was elected March 13, 2013 -- Tornielli offered a quick review of the pope's past year, focusing particularly on his plea for Catholics to pray the rosary in October, asking for protection of the church from attacks by the devil.

Tornielli's review included listing the Synod of Bishops on young people, the Vatican summit on child protection and clerical sexual abuse and the pope's trips abroad.

But the piece published on Vatican News March 12 also mentioned the call for Pope Francis to resign issued by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, who claimed in August that the pope knew of and ignored sanctions issued against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick because of sexual misconduct.

Pope Francis' sixth year in office, Tornielli said, "was characterized by the scourge of abuse and by suffering from internal attacks. His response was a call to return to the heart of faith."

In the face of the McCarrick case and Archbishop Vigano's letter, he said, the pope "asked all the faithful in the world to pray the rosary every day during the Marian month of October 2018 to unite themselves 'in communion and penance as the people of God in asking the holy mother of God and St. Michael the Archangel to protect the church from the devil, who always tries to divide us from God and each other.'"

"Such a detailed request is unprecedented in the recent history of the church," Tornielli said.

The pope's request demonstrated an awareness of "the gravity of the situation," but also a conviction that human efforts alone would not remedy the situation.

"Once again, the pope has recalled what is essential: The church is not made of super-heroes -- or even super-popes -- and does not move forward by virtue of its human resources or of its strategies," Tornielli wrote.

The Catholic Church knows that evil is present in the world, that original sin exists and that to be saved "we need help from above," he said. "Repeating that does not mean diminishing the personal responsibility of each individual or the responsibility of the institution but of situating them in their real context."

While not mentioning reports putting much of the blame for failing to handle the abuse crisis adequately 20 years ago -- pointing figures at St. John Paul II and the cardinals closest to him -- Tornielli said, "it would be an error put the blame on those who came before us, and to present ourselves as 'pure.'"

Today and every day, he said, the church must pray to be "delivered from evil. This is a fact of reality that the pope, in continuity with his predecessors, has constantly recalled."

Acknowledging how the past year was "troubled" for Pope Francis, Tornielli insisted that the pope was right to push for more effective norms, responsibility and transparency, but also to realize that they would not be enough to end the crisis.

The church, as Pope Francis has taught, must recognize "herself as a beggar asking for healing, in need of mercy and forgiveness from her Lord."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Mike McNamara
4 months ago

Yes. The abuses are a scourge. Yes. They are criminal. Those committing these crimes should face the criminal justice system. BUT, the issue that drove 80% of the abuses is homosexuality, which, when acted upon is sinful. Let’s just be honest and recognize this irrefutable fact. Will the truth set us free? Will covering it up corrupt is? Yes.

Mister Mckee
4 months ago

"That the Vatican continues to speak of a scandal instead of a crisis, or at least to use the terms interchangeably, suggests an unwillingness to come to grips with reality: to admit that there is persistent moral failure — at times criminal — protracted over generations within the clerical and hierarchical leadership and diffuse throughout the local and national Churches, reaching all the way to Rome and through the Curia — its precise extent and depth there is not yet fathomed — and all the way to the Apostolic Palace." [where Pope Francis wisely chooses NOT to sleep!]
https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/03/13/at-six-year-mark-francis-pontificate-struggles-with-crisis-as-stakes-increase/

Advertisement

The latest from america

From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., respond to remarks by President Donald Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their "broken" countries, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. All are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S.
The Editors: These comments need to be called out as racist, xenophobic and sexist.
The EditorsJuly 16, 2019
People wait to apply for asylum in the United States along the border on July 16 in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
“It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
Kevin ClarkeJuly 16, 2019
During her lifetime, poetry turned into a vocation that helped Marie Ponsot achieve her true essence.
Benjamin IvryJuly 16, 2019
A coalition of Catholic organizations will gather on July 18 in front of the U.S. Capitol to protest the treatment of immigrant children at the border.