Pope Francis has expressed his “pain and shame'” for the “irreparable damage” caused to children by some priests in the Church.
During his first full day in Chile–a country that has been scarred by the abuses that have caused tension and protests even up to the visit–addressing to the countries authorities, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for these acts and appealed that “every effort” be done to help victims and to ensure that “such things do not happen again.”
This was the Pontiff’s first address in the Latin American country he is visiting during his 22nd Apostolic Visit abroad, to Chile and Peru, Jan. 15-22, 2018.
‘I feel bound to express my pain and shame,” the Pope said, “at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church. I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again’
Beyond, acknowledging this sad reality, Francis said it is “a joy for me to stand once again on Latin American soil and begin this visit to Chile, this land so close to my heart, which welcomed and schooled me in my younger years.”
The Argentine Pontiff pointed out how Chile has distinguished itself in recent decades by the growth of a democracy that has enabled steady progress , noting the recent political elections were a demonstration of the solidity and civic maturity that they have achieved, which takes on particular significance in this year marking the 200th anniversary of the declaration of independence.
The Pope applauded the country’s later being founded on freedom and law. Yet, he stressed, each new generation must take up the struggles and attainments of past generations, while setting its own sights even higher. “Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day.”
“It is not possible to settle for what was achieved in the past and complacently enjoy it, as if we could somehow ignore the fact that many of our brothers and sisters still endure situations of injustice that none of us can ignore.”
The Pope said that Chile has a great and exciting challenge before them, namely “to continue working to make this democracy, as your forebears dreamed, beyond its formal aspects, a true place of encounter for all. To make it a place where everyone, without exception, feels called to join in building a house, a family and a nation.”
Calling Chile a home and family, the first Pope from the Americas stressed the country is generous and welcoming, enamored of her history, committed to social harmony in the present, and looking forward with hope to the future.
The ability to listen, the Pope said, proves most important in this nation, whose ethnic, cultural and historical diversity must be preserved from all partisan spirit or attempts at domination, and inspire instead our innate ability to replace narrow ideologies with a healthy concern for the common good.
It is necessary, the Pope said, to listen to the unemployed, native peoples, migrants, elderly, who ‘we cannot abandon,’ and young people.
One must listen to young people and their desire for greater opportunities, especially in education, Francis said, “so that they can take active part in building the Chile they dream of, while at the same time shielding them from the scourge of drugs that rob the best part of their lives.”
Francis also said we must listen to children “who look out on the world with eyes full of amazement and innocence, and expect from us concrete answers for a dignified future.”
“Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” the Pope said, noting: “I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again.”
The Pontiff also underscored the importance of protecting the environment.
The Chilean soul, the Holy Father recalled, is ‘a vocation to being, a stubborn will to exist.‘ “It is a vocation to which all are summoned, and from which no one should feel excluded or unneeded. A vocation that demands a radical option for life, especially in all those forms in which it is threatened.”
Pope Francis concluded, thanking them and praying for the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mother and Queen of Chile, to accompany and bring to birth the dreams of this blessed nation.