Pope Sees "Moment of Hope" for Church in U.S.

But Warns Nation Is Losing a Sense of the Transcendent

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The purification that the Church in the United States is undergoing in the wake of the clerical sex-abuse scandals constitutes a «moment of hope,» says John Paul II.

To a group of visiting bishops from the ecclesial provinces of Atlanta and Miami, the Pope wanted «to reaffirm my confidence in the Church in America» and «my appreciation of the deep faith of America’s Catholics and my gratitude for their many contributions to American society and to the life of the Church throughout the world.»

«Viewed with the eyes of faith, the present moment of difficulty is also a moment of hope, that hope which does not disappoint, because it is rooted in the Holy Spirit, who constantly raises up new energies, callings and missions within the Body of Christ,» the Holy Father said in the address he delivered in English.

John Paul II recalled that a 2001 special assembly of the Synod of Bishops presented the bishop as «a prophet, witness and servant of hope to the world.»

The exercise of this prophetic witness in contemporary American society, the Pope said, quoting reports presented to him by the bishops, has «been made increasingly difficult by the aftermath of the recent scandal and the outspoken hostility to the Gospel in certain sectors of public opinion, yet it cannot be evaded or delegated to others.»

«Precisely because American society is confronted by a disturbing loss of the sense of the transcendent and the affirmation of a culture of the material and the ephemeral, it desperately needs such a witness of hope,» the Holy Father said.

«It is in hope that we have been saved; the Gospel of hope enables us to discern the consoling presence of God’s Kingdom in the midst of this world and offers confidence, serenity and direction in place of that hopelessness which inevitably spawns fear, hostility and violence in the hearts of individuals and in society as a whole,» he continued.

«I am confident that the willingness which you have shown in acknowledging and addressing past mistakes and failures, while at the same time seeking to learn from them, will contribute greatly to this work of reconciliation and renewal,» the Pope affirmed.

He added: «This time of purification will, by God’s grace, lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church, a Church ever more convinced of the truth of the Christian message, the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ, and the need for unity, fidelity and conviction in bearing witness to the Gospel before the world.»

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