During his final meeting with U.S. bishops, Pope Francis began by recounting a meeting he just had with victims of sexual abuse. They were victimized by priests, teachers, or members of their own family.
"It continues to make me feel overwhelming ashamed that people who were in charge of the tender care of those small children violated them and caused them serious harm. I deeply regret it. God weeps.”
The Pope said that these abuses are crimes and sins that cannot be kept in secret. He said that bishops must respect the victims and make a strong commitment to fight against these tragedies.
"I agree with the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and promise that those responsible will pay. To you, the survivors of abuse have become heralds of hope and true ministers of mercy. Humbly we owe each of them and their families our gratitude for their immense value to shine the light of Christ over the evil sexual abuse.”
The speech came during the World Meeting of Families. The Pope also denounced the culture of extreme consumerism that takes over entire societies. He said it ruins personal relationships.
"Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust...The result is a culture which discards everything that is no longer 'useful' or 'satisfying' for the tastes of the consumer.”
Today's culture, according to Pope Francis, has made many people see the world as a giant department store, a great place to shop and consume.
People stop seeing each other as friends and instead think of what benefits they can receive from others. He pointed to social networks as an example.
"Running after the latest fad, accumulating 'friends' on one of the social networks, we get caught up in what contemporary society has to offer. Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized.”
Pope Francis concluded by suggesting how the Church can help solve the problem. To help, he said, it's necessary to have a pastoral conversion. Above all, young people must understand that today's culture doesn't help them be bold. It creates fear in their lives.
"The world today demands this conversion on our part... A Christianity which 'does' little in practice, while incessantly 'explaining' its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious cycle.”
Many young people are afraid of marriage, the Pope said, because they fear they don't have the economic ability to go into it. But at the same time, he said they can't live life without taking risks.