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Rome Reports

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Pope's letter to U.S. Bishops: credibility lost more by denying and concealing abuse

Currently on a week-long retreat as a time of prayer and seclusion called for by the pope, the U.S. Bishops received a letter from him. Among many points, the Holy Father regrets not being present, as he promised Cardinal DiNardo in their Sept. 13 meeting at the Vatican. 

In the letter, the pope said “no one can consider himself exempt” from the “difficult and critical moments” now facing the Church. 

He then broke down his letter in two parts to the bishops. In the first part, Pope Francis said the “Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility.” He said this turbulence in victims' lives is caused from “the abuse of power, conscience and sexual abuse” by “ordained ministers, male and female religious and lay faithful.”

Even more than by the actions, he asserts the efforts to deny or conceal these acts has led to distrust by the faithful. 

The Holy Father said a new approach is necessary to repair the damage, creating healthy spaces and bringing people together, with respect toward the dignity of everyone. This begins with constant conversion, to free the Church from falsehood trying to defend herself, rather than begin healing. 

The second part of the letter addresses the need for service, instead of seeking places of honor. He said everything from the abuses, to how they were handled, to pointing fingers led to further suffering. Rather, Pope Francis encouraged the bishops to be open and generously serve everyone, even amongst lost prestige or accolades.

He encouraged them to step out of themselves and look at others, calling especially on the Blessed Mother for protection, perseverance and unity. 

While the pope could not attend, the Preacher of the Papal Household, Capuchin Father Rainero Cantalamessa, is the one delivering the retreat, giving many catecheses and reflections to all present.