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Pope likely to meet with abuse victims in Dublin

Vatican City, Aug 21, 2018 / 08:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is likely to meet with victims of clerical sexual abuse later this week, a papal spokesman announced on Tuesday. The proposed meeting would take place as part of the Holy Father’s two-day trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

In a briefing to journalists ahead of the papal trip to Dublin Aug. 25-26, spokesman Greg Burke said that if the encounter takes place, its purpose will be for the pope to listen to victims, and that it will be done privately, with no details released until afterward.

The possible meeting between the pope and victims would follow the same pattern as Francis’ meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile during his visit to the country in January 2018, that meeting was also unscheduled.

Though Francis is traveling to Dublin for the conclusion of the 2018 World Meeting of Families, Burke, who is the director of the Holy See press office, told journalists the pope is aware that any visit to Ireland cannot only address that event, though it will be his primary focus.

Following almost two months of limited audiences and appointments for the summer break, “the pope is well-rested and ready, and wants to talk about the family,” Burke said.

On the question of whether Francis will explicitly address the result of the May referendum which legalized abortion in the country, or the issue of clerical sexual abuse, Burke said it remains to be seen. Burke did underscore that the pope will give a total of six speeches over the two days, and that there will certainly be the “opportunity, or possibility” that these subjects would be addressed.

Francis’ schedule for the weekend already includes a moment of prayer for clerical sexual abuse victims, which will take place during his stop at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. There he will also meet with recently-married couples, speaking with them and taking a few questions.

Along the road to St. Mary’s, the pope will stop to venerate a relic of Venerable Matt Talbot, a simple Irish laborer who died in Dublin in 1925.

Other papal appointments Aug. 25 include a meeting with Ireland’s president and political leaders, members of civil society, and diplomatic corps; and a visit to a Capuchin-run day center for homeless families.

As is his habit, Francis will also have a private meeting with local Jesuits at the apostolic nunciature on Saturday.

One of two major public events will be the Festival of Families, held at Croke Park, which will include testimonies from families around the world, as well as singing and dancing performances - including from world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

On the morning of Aug. 26, the pope will fly to Ireland’s Knock Shrine, where 15 people saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John, and the Lamb of God in 1879.

After returning to Dublin, he will celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park, where Pope St. John Paul II celebrated Mass during his apostolic visit – as the first pope to visit Ireland – in 1979.

The location of the next World Meeting of Families, typically held every three years, will be announced at the end of the Mass by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who is head of the Vatican dicastery on laity, family, and life.

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

Reading 1 Ez 28:1-10

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man,
say to the prince of Tyre:
Thus says the Lord GOD:

Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, "A god am I!
I occupy a godly throne
in the heart of the sea!"—
And yet you are a man, and not a god,
however you may think yourself like a god.
Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel,
there is no secret that is beyond you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have made riches for yourself;
You have put gold and silver
into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom applied to your trading
you have heaped up your riches;
your heart has grown haughty from your riches–
therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you have thought yourself
to have the mind of a god,
Therefore I will bring against you
foreigners, the most barbarous of nations.
They shall draw their swords
against your beauteous wisdom,
they shall run them through your splendid apparel.
They shall thrust you down to the pit, there to die
a bloodied corpse, in the heart of the sea.
Will you then say, "I am a god!"
when you face your murderers?
No, you are man, not a god,
handed over to those who will slay you.
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
at the hands of foreigners,
for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.

Responsorial Psalm  Dt 32:26-27ab, 27cd-28, 30, 35cd-36ab

R. (39c) It is I who deal death and give life.
"I would have said, 'I will make an end of them
and blot out their name from men's memories,'
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies,
feared that these foes would mistakenly boast."
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
"'Our own hand won the victory;
the LORD had nothing to do with it.'"
For they are a people devoid of reason,
having no understanding.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
"How could one man rout a thousand,
or two men put ten thousand to flight,
Unless it was because their Rock sold them
and the LORD delivered them up?"
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster,
and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.

Alleluia 2 Cor 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
So that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
"Who then can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible."
Then Peter said to him in reply,
"We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope calls entire Church to pray and fast after clerical sex abuse revelations

Vatican City, Aug 20, 2018 / 05:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis called Monday for every member of the Catholic Church to pray and fast in penance for the evil of clerical sex abuse, and to be involved in needed change within the Church.

“The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God,” Francis wrote Aug. 20.

In a letter to the entire Church following widespread revelations of clerical sex abuse in the Church in the United States, the pope invited “the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.”

“This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says ‘never again’ to every form of abuse,” he said. “Every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.”

In the letter, Francis acknowledged the recent publication of a report detailing abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, which included more than 300 priests and 1,000 victims, over a period of around 70 years.

Recognizing the deep pain and suffering endured by many minors who have experienced sexual abuse, or the abuse of power or conscience, at the hands of clerics, he said no effort to seek pardon or to repair the harm will ever be enough.

“Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” he stated.

He said the words of St. Paul, that “‘If one member suffers, all suffer together with it’… forcefully echo” in his heart.

The pope also emphasized that he thinks a conversion of the Church is “impossible” if it does not include the “active participation” of all the members of the Church, and he criticized the silencing or ignoring of some Catholics through the creation of elitist groups or projects.

In particular, all forms of clericalism should be rejected, he said, because clericalism undervalues baptismal grace and can lead to abuses by Church authority. Clericalism causes “an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.”

Voicing strong support for all the victims of clerical sex abuse and for their families, he said though most of the cases recently come to light, “belong to the past,” as time goes on the pain of the victims has come to be more known.

He said the gravity and extent to which clerical sexual abuse of minors and other abuse has happened takes “coming to grips… in a comprehensive and communal way,” and while conversion requires acknowledgment of the truth, it is “not enough.”

“This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does… to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help,” he stated.

The penitential aspect of fasting will help Catholics to come before the Lord “as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion,” so that actions “attuned to the Gospel” can follow, he explained.

He prayed that fasting and prayer will open people’s ears to the pain of children, young people, and the disabled, that it will make Catholics “hunger and thirst for justice,” and impel the Church “to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.”

“It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” he continued.

“Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others,” he said. “An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Ez 24:15-23

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, by a sudden blow
I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes,
but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears.
Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead,
bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet,
do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread.
That evening my wife died,
and the next morning I did as I had been commanded.
Then the people asked me, "Will you not tell us what all these things
that you are doing mean for us?"
I therefore spoke to the people that morning, saying to them:
Thus the word of the LORD came to me:
Say to the house of Israel:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride,
the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul.
The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword.
Ezekiel shall be a sign for you:
all that he did you shall do when it happens.
Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
You shall do as I have done,
not covering your beards nor eating the customary bread.
Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet.
You shall not mourn or weep,
but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.

Responsorial Psalm Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21

R. (see 18a) You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you.
You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the LORD saw this, he was filled with loathing
and anger toward his sons and daughters.
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
"I will hide my face from them," he said,
"and see what will then become of them.
What a fickle race they are,
sons with no loyalty in them!"
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.
"Since they have provoked me with their 'no-god'
and angered me with their vain idols,
I will provoke them with a 'no-people';
with a foolish nation I will anger them."
R. You have forgotten God who gave you birth.

Alleluia Mt 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"
He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
He asked him, "Which ones?"
And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The young man said to him,
"All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me."
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Prv 9:1-6

Wisdom has built her house,
she has set up her seven columns;
she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine,
yes, she has spread her table.
She has sent out her maidens; she calls
from the heights out over the city:
"Let whoever is simple turn in here;
To the one who lacks understanding, she says,
Come, eat of my food,
and drink of the wine I have mixed!
Forsake foolishness that you may live;
advance in the way of understanding."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 Eph 5:15-20

Brothers and sisters:
Watch carefully how you live,
not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not continue in ignorance,
but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,
but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks always and for everything
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

Alleluia Jn 6:56

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Ez 18:1-10, 13b, 30-32

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, what is the meaning of this proverb
that you recite in the land of Israel:

"Fathers have eaten green grapes,
thus their children's teeth are on edge"?

As I live, says the Lord GOD:
I swear that there shall no longer be anyone among you
who will repeat this proverb in Israel.
For all lives are mine;
the life of the father is like the life of the son, both are mine;
only the one who sins shall die.

If a man is virtuous—if he does what is right and just,
if he does not eat on the mountains,
nor raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel;
if he does not defile his neighbor's wife,
nor have relations with a woman in her menstrual period;
if he oppresses no one,
gives back the pledge received for a debt,
commits no robbery;
if he gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked;
if he does not lend at interest nor exact usury;
if he holds off from evildoing,
judges fairly between a man and his opponent;
if he lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances,
that man is virtuous—he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD.

But if he begets a son who is a thief, a murderer,
or lends at interest and exacts usury–
this son certainly shall not live.
Because he practiced all these abominations, he shall surely die;
his death shall be his own fault.

Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel,
each one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD.
Turn and be converted from all your crimes,
that they may be no cause of guilt for you.
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
Why should you die, O house of Israel?
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,
says the Lord GOD. Return and live!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God;
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Alleluia See Mt 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

August 18, 2018 – Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Blessing of the Children Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus draws attention to the children who exemplify the proper attitude for gaining entrance into God’s Kingdom. In the culture, children have no claims or rights. They can do nothing but trust in the goodness of others. In the same way, the disciples are to depend completely on the Father. Prayer: Like a child I place my hand in yours. Please don’t let me let go.

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations.
Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem:
By origin and birth you are of the land of Canaan;
your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
As for your birth, the day you were born your navel cord was not cut;
you were neither washed with water nor anointed,
nor were you rubbed with salt, nor swathed in swaddling clothes.
No one looked on you with pity or compassion
to do any of these things for you.
Rather, you were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome,
the day you were born.

Then I passed by and saw you weltering in your blood.
I said to you: Live in your blood and grow like a plant in the field.
You grew and developed, you came to the age of puberty;
your breasts were formed, your hair had grown,
but you were still stark naked.
Again I passed by you and saw that you were now old enough for love.
So I spread the corner of my cloak over you to cover your nakedness;
I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you;
you became mine, says the Lord GOD.
Then I bathed you with water, washed away your blood,
and anointed you with oil.
I clothed you with an embroidered gown,
put sandals of fine leather on your feet;
I gave you a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear.
I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms,
a necklace about your neck, a ring in your nose,
pendants in your ears, and a glorious diadem upon your head.
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver;
your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.
Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food.
You were exceedingly beautiful, with the dignity of a queen.
You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfect as it was,
because of my splendor which I had bestowed on you,
says the Lord GOD.

But you were captivated by your own beauty,
you used your renown to make yourself a harlot,
and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by,
whose own you became.

Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you,
that you may remember and be covered with confusion,
and that you may be utterly silenced for shame
when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.

Or:Ez 16:59-63


Thus says the LORD:
I will deal with you according to what you have done,
you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant.
Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.
Then you shall remember your conduct and be ashamed
when I take your sisters, those older and younger than you,
and give them to you as daughters,
even though I am not bound by my covenant with you.
For I will re-establish my covenant with you,
that you may know that I am the LORD,
that you may remember and be covered with confusion,
and that you may be utterly silenced for shame
when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.

Responsorial Psalm Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (1c) You have turned from your anger.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You have turned from your anger.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You have turned from your anger.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You have turned from your anger.

Alleluia See 1 Thes 2:13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but, as it truly is, the word of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,
"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?"
He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?

So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate."
They said to him, "Then why did Moses command
that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?"
He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery."
His disciples said to him,
"If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry."
He answered, "Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

August 17, 2018 – Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Marriage and Divorce Matthew 19:3-12 The Pharisees are testing Jesus by questioning him about marriage and divorce. His response makes it clear that Jesus considers marriage indissoluble. Moses allowed divorce as a concession to the weakened nature of humanity. Jesus also speaks about celibacy as a state of life that some, but not all, are called to. Prayer: I pray this day for those in difficult marriages and for those who have suffered the pain of divorce. May they find healing and wholeness again.

'Shame and sorrow' – Holy See responds to Pennsylvania report

Vatican City, Aug 16, 2018 / 02:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See on Thursday denounced sexual abuse and called for accountability for both perpetrators and leaders who covered up their crimes, following the release of a report detailing alleged clerical abuse in Pennsylvania.

“The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible,” said the statement, released Aug. 16.

“Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

The statement responded to a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that was released earlier this week following an 18-month investigation into alleged instances of abuse spanning several decades. The report detailed allegations against some 300 priests, from more than 1,000 victims, in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Pope Francis takes the subject of abuse seriously, the statement said, stressing that “The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.”

“The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and in all of society,” it said.

“Victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent.”

The Holy See noted that most allegations mentioned in the report are from before the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the US bishops in 2002 to prevent clerical abuse.

“By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse,” the Holy See said.

The statement encouraged “continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm.” It also emphasized the importance of adhering to civil law, including abuse reporting requirements.