Pope Francis has once again acknowledged “the pain and unbearable suffering” caused by the clerical sex abuse and said that the Church may be experiencing something akin to purgatory as more clerics get sucked into the vortex of the scandal.
Speaking to priests from the Diocese of Rome on March 7 during an annual Lenten meeting, the pope talked about forgiveness and suggested the process was necessary to purge and renew the Church.
He also reaffirmed his position that the scandal was the devil’s work.
“Sin disfigures us,” the pope said, according to Catholic News Service. It is “humiliating” when “we, or one of our brother priests or bishops, falls into the bottomless abyss of vice, corruption or, worse still, of a crime that destroys the lives of others,” he said.
“This humble repentance is the beginning of our holiness,” he added.
“Still, do not be discouraged,” Pope Francis told the priests. “The Lord is purifying his bride (the Church) and is converting us all to himself. He is putting us to the test so that we would understand that, without him, we are dust.”
During the meeting, he also heard confessions from priests and spoke of the Exodus story of God forming his people as He led them to the Promised Land.
Guidance of God
Pope Francis said part of God’s instruction involved teaching his people to be humble, and that it was necessary they experience “these awful moments of desolation” in order to appreciate and fear their creeping vices.
“Let us believe in the patient guidance of God, who does things in His time, opening our hearts and placing themselves at the service of His word of reconciliation.”
Before closing the meeting, the pope warned priests to brace for a period when they may face misunderstandings and even rejection.