Pope writes letter supporting priests

Pope Francis has written a letter to priests all over the world to offer his support because of the global sex abuse scandal.

His 5,000-word letter (sent on the feast day of St John Vianney, patron of parish priests) acknowledges priests’ pain when they “feel themselves attacked and blamed for crimes they did not commit”.

Saying he wants to be close to them and writing “as an older brother and a father”, Francis’s letter addresses all those priests who have given their lives to Jesus and “are working in the trenches” exposed to countless difficulties.

He writes to thank them “in the name of the holy and faithful People of God for all that you do for them” and “to encourage you never to forget the words that the Lord spoke to us with great love on our ordination day:

“‘I no longer call you servants…I call you friends’.”

“Without denying or dismissing the harm” caused by the scandals, he says “it would be unfair not to express our gratitude” to priests who have fulfilled their duties “faithfully and generously”.

He says he is aware and deeply concerned that in many countries the morale of priests has suffered greatly because of the abuse scandal.

“I want to say a word to each of you who, often without fanfare and at personal cost, amid weariness, infirmity and sorrow, carry out your mission of service to God and to your people,” he says.

“Despite the hardships of the journey, you are writing the finest pages of the priestly life.”

His letter also affirms the Church’s full commitment to reforms to ensure “the culture of abuse will have no time to develop, much less continue”.

“If in the past, omission may itself have been a kind of response, today we desire conversion, transparency, sincerity and solidarity with the victims,” he says.


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News category: World.

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