Pope in Estonia: youths angry at Church over sexual abuse

Pope Francis is welcomed at the airport in Tallinn, Estonia September 25, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis, on the final day of his pilgrimage to the Baltic states, said that youths are outraged at the Church because they perceive alack of “clear condemnation” of clergy sexual abuse. They feel that the Church is not significant to their existence. The Pope was addressing an ecumenical meeting at Tallinn’s Kaarli Lutheran church.

“When we adults refuse to acknowledge some evident reality, you tell us frankly: ‘Can’t you see this?’ Some of you who are a bit more forthright might even say to us: ‘Don’t you see that nobody is listening to you any more, or believes what you have to say?’”

The Pope added that “Some, in fact, expressly ask to be left in peace, because they feel the presence of the church is annoying or even irritating,” said Francis, adding: “They become outraged when they do not see a clear condemnation of sexual and economic scandals.”

Pope Francis called for the Church to be converted and to answer young people’s call for change.

“We ourselves need to be converted,” Francis added, “we have to realize that in order to stand by your side we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off.”

This was the first time that Pope Francis mentioned the sex abuse scandals during his Sept. 22-25 visit to the Baltic countries.

During the same meeting the pope referred to the Synod of Bishops that will be meeting at the Vatican between  Oct. 3-28 with a focus on young people. Francis said youth want a church that is more “transparent, welcoming, honest, [and] inviting.”

The ecumenical meeting was held after Pope Francis had met with President Kersti Kaljulaid after he landed in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city, early Sept. 25.

He then addressed some of the country’s political leaders outside the presidential palace. The Pope exhorted the politicians to build “a sense of belonging and commitment to others” among their people.

“One of the most important obligations incumbent on all of us who have social, political, educational and religious responsibilities has to do precisely with how we can keep building bonds,” said the Pope.

The Pope will also visit a local convent,  meet with volunteers at an agency run by the Missionary Sisters of Charity and then end his trip to Estonia with a Mass in Tallinn’s Freedom Square.

The Pope returns to Rome on Tuesday night.