Pope Francis called Monday for every member of the Catholic Church to pray and fast in penance for the evil of clerical sex abuse, and to be involved in needed change within the Church.
“The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God,” Francis wrote Aug. 20.
In a letter to the entire Church following widespread revelations of clerical sex abuse in the Church in the United States, the pope invited “the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.”
Francis acknowledged the recent publication of a report detailing abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, which included more than 300 priests and 1,000 victims, over a period of around 70 years.
The pope also emphasized that he thinks a conversion of the Church is “impossible” if it does not include the “active participation” of all the members of the Church, and he criticized the silencing or ignoring of some Catholics through the creation of elitist groups or projects.
In particular, all forms of clericalism should be rejected, he said, because clericalism undervalues baptismal grace and can lead to abuses by Church authority. Clericalism causes “an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.”
“Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others,” he said. “An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.