Update: Pope begins Mass in Dublin with penitential plea for abuse scandals

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

DUBLIN (CNS) — Before celebrating Mass in a Dublin park,
Pope Francis solemnly asked forgiveness for the thousands of cases of sexual
and physical abuse perpetrated by Catholics in Ireland.

“We ask forgiveness for the abuse in Ireland, abuse of
power and of conscience, sexual abuse” by clergy and religious, he said
Aug. 26. “In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all the abuse committed
in the different institutions run by religious men and religious women and
other members of the church.”

In a litany of recognition and prayers for the Lord’s mercy,
Pope Francis formally asked forgiveness for the forced labor that even children were
forced to perform in church institutions.

And, responding to a request made by two survivors he had
met Aug. 25, the pope asked forgiveness for all the babies taken from their
unwed mothers and put up for adoption without their mothers consent.

The mothers were told later it would be a “mortal
sin” for them to try to find the children, but the pope said explicitly:
“It is not a mortal sin. It is the Fourth Commandment,” which states,
“Honor your father and your mother.”

“We apologize for some members of the hierarchy who did
not own up to these painful situations and remained silent,” he said.
“We ask for forgiveness.”

The pope’s penitential plea followed the introductory
remarks of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who told the pope, “The
Church in Ireland has gone through challenging times. People have been wounded
in the depth of their being by church people; people’s faith has been
challenged and the church of Jesus Christ has been wounded.”

“Faith in Ireland is strong,” he said, and “faith
in Ireland is fragile,” but that is not necessarily a surprise. “There
is an intrinsic fragility in faith can steer us away from arrogance and self-centeredness.”

The Mass was the official closing
of the World Meeting of Families, and Pope Francis used his homily to urge
families from around the world to harness their joy and use it to transform the
world into a place where all people feel loved, welcomed and supported in their
commitments to each other.

“The church as a whole is
called to ‘go forth’ to bring the words of eternal life to all the peripheries
of our world,” the pope told tens of thousands of people gathered in a
slightly sodden Phoenix Park.

A view of the crowd from the
altar was that of a mosaic of brightly colored rain gear flapping in the wind.
But even close to the altar platform there were large open spaces set aside for
people who never arrived.

At the end of his homily, Pope
Francis urged each person present — “parents and grandparents, children
and young people, men and women, religious brothers and sisters, contemplatives
and missionaries, deacons and priests” — to share “the Gospel of the
family as joy for the world!”

The Catholic teaching on
marriage and family life is often challenging and not universally accepted, he
said, but Jesus himself promised that his words “are spirit and life.”

In fact, he said, it is the Holy
Spirit who “constantly breathes new life into our world, into our hearts,
into our families, into our homes and parishes. Each new day in the life of our
families, and each new generation, brings the promise of a new Pentecost, a
domestic Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, the paraclete, whom Jesus
sends as our advocate, our consoler and indeed our encourager.”

The world needs such
encouragement, the pope said, and laypeople in families are the best ones to
give it.

In St. Paul, in his Letter to
the Ephesians, describes marriage as “a sharing in the mystery of Christ’s
undying fidelity to his bride, the church,” he said. “Yet this
teaching, as magnificent as it is, can appear to some as a ‘hard saying.’
Because living in love, even as Christ loved us, entails imitating his own
self-sacrifice, dying to ourselves in order to be reborn to a greater and more
enduring love.”

That self-giving love, he said,
is the only thing that “can save our world from its bondage to sin,
selfishness, greed and indifference to the needs of the less fortunate.”

Self-giving love is what
Christians learn from Jesus. Self-giving love “became incarnate in our
world through a family,” he said, and “through the witness of
Christian families in every age it has the power to break down every barrier in
order to reconcile the world to God and to make us what we were always meant to
be: a single human family dwelling together in justice, holiness and peace.”

Pope Francis said participants,
filled with enthusiasm after the World Meeting of Families, also need to “humbly
acknowledge that, if we are honest with ourselves, we, too, can find the
teachings of Jesus hard.”

For instance, he said, “how
difficult it is always to forgive those who hurt us; how challenging always to
welcome the migrant and the stranger; how painful joyfully to bear
disappointment, rejection or betrayal; how inconvenient to protect the rights
of the most vulnerable, the unborn or the elderly, who seem to impinge upon our
own sense of freedom.”

But that is when Catholics must
affirm that they believe and will follow the Lord, Pope Francis told them.

– – –

Follow Wooden on Twitter:

– – –

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article