Rome — The clerical abuse scandal has caused everyone in the Catholic Church “pain and unbearable suffering,” Pope Francis said, but it also is a call to repentance and the renewal of the church.
“Our humble repentance, which remains silent between our tears for the monstrosity of sin and the unfathomable greatness of God’s forgiveness, this, this humble repentance is the beginning of our holiness,” the pope told priests from the Diocese of Rome.
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God threatens to abandon his people, and he lets them experience some of what it might mean to be without him, the pope said. “We’ve experienced this, these awful moments of spiritual desolation.”
But the Lord always returns, allowing people to learn to fear their own powerlessness, their slyness, the way they say one thing and do another, he said.Confession, for priests like for any Catholic, is a moment of coming face to face with one’s own weakness, being honest and saying out loud how one has sinned, he said. It’s like removing the mask or makeup people usually wear so no one sees their faults.
Pope Francis told the priests they should not expect to be always understood, accepted and appreciated, but “let us believe in the patient guidance of God, who does things in his time, opening our hearts and placing ourselves at the service of his word of reconciliation.”