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(Vatican Radio) Six survivors of sex abuse by members of the Church shared their stories with Pope Francis on Monday in what the head of the Vatican press office described as moments of "profound spiritual encounter". The three men and three women from the UK, Ireland and Germany attended Mass with the Pope at his Santa Marta residence and had breakfast with him, before spending a total of almost three and a half hours in a series of private conversations.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: 

At the end of the Pope’s morning meetings with sex abuse survivors, Fr Federico Lombardi said the six victims appeared ‘profoundly moved’, but also ‘positive and serene’. Responding to journalists’ questions, he said each survivor spent about half an hour with the Pope, after which they expressed “gratitude and deep emotion” that their stories had been listened to with such attention. Far from being a public relations event, as some survivors’ support groups have suggested, Fr Lombardi said he hoped these important encounters would be the beginning of a road towards healing and reconciliation:

While he gave no details about their identity or the kind of abuse they’d suffered, Fr Lombardi said the three men and three women arrived in the Vatican on Sunday afternoon and had a first opportunity to meet with the Pope over dinner at his Santa Marta residence. Early on Monday, accompanied by a friend or relative and members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, they listened as Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the “sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse” they had all endured.

Speaking in his native Spanish, Pope Francis begged forgiveness, not just for those who he said behaved like "a sacrilegious cult", betraying their mission and profaning the very image of God, but also for the sins of omission of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of sexual abuse. The Pope praised the courage of those who spoke up and “shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church”. He said he would not tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual and he said bishops must “foster the protection of minors and they will be held accountable”.

Pope Francis said the “despicable actions” of abusers not only violates the innocence of children but also leaves “deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain and even despair”. He expressed his heartfelt sorrow and love for all those families who have had to deal with addiction, relationship breakdown and even suicide as a result of sexual abuse.  He thanked the survivors for coming to meet him personally, saying their presence speaks of “the miracle of hope which prevails against the deepest darkness”. He asked them to pray for him, that he and the whole Church may find the grace to weep, to feel ashamed and to make reparation for those who abused such innocent people.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio/PCCS) Pope Francis has expressed his appreciation for the work being done by all the Vatican’s media services in enhancing their presence and participation in the digital world. The Pope’s words came on Monday as he was given a personal viewing of the new updated version of  “The Pope App”, developed by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. 

Council President Archbishop Claudio Celli, accompanied by project coordinator, Thaddeus Jones, met with the Pope to demonstrate features of the app, which was released in the iTunes and Google Play stores on July 4th. Available in five languages, the Pope App 2.0  is free and can be downloaded on Apple and Android devices.  Powered by News.va, it features the latest papal news and information as produced by the Vatican’s own media services – including Vatican Radio.  Its new design simplifies access to content and, according to Archbishop Celli, allows people to be in ever closer contact with the Pope, his ministry and his message of God’s love....

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Archbishop Celli and Thaddeus Jones: 

Vatican City, 8 July 2014 (VIS) – The Institute for the Works of Religion (Istituto per le Opere di Religione – IOR) today released its 2013 financial statements and gave a detailed update on the results of Phase I of the Institute's reform. The second phase, namely the integration of the IOR into the new economic-administrative landscape of the Vatican, will be entrusted to a new board and executive team, operating under a new governance structure. The costs necessary for the completion of Phase I, and costs related to legacy investments, are reflected in the results for 2013.

“As set out in May 2013, we have focused on making the IOR compliant with financial regulation, safer and more transparent, so as to create options for the Holy Father to decide on the future of the Institute. Through this work we have lad the ground for a new team to make the IOR a truly outstanding service provider in Catholic finance”, said Ernst von Freyburg, president of the Board of Superintendence. “Notwithstanding this housekeeping effort, the IOR has delivered a creditable performance for its customers, first and foremost the Holy See itself. In the first half of 2014, we delivered a very positive performance that validates the efforts of all those working at the IOR”, he added.

The full balance for 2013 can be consulted, in English and Italian, on the IOR's website, as follows:

http://www.ior.va/Portals/0/Content/Media/PressReleases/Press%20Release_IOR_8_July-ENG.pdf

http://www.ior.va/Portals/0/Content/Media/PressReleases/Press%20Release_IOR_8_July-ITA.pdf

To address the terrible scandal of the abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy, Pope Francis meditated on a poignant moment of the Passion of Christ, the moment in which Jesus’ gaze crossed that of Peter’s, who cried, having just denied him. And he did so in his Homily during the day’s morning Mass at Santa Marta, which was attended by several victims with whom the Holy Father then passed the entire morning in a series of lengthy personal interviews.

To them, not only to Catholics, the Bishop of Rome opened the heart to this abyss of evil: not only despicable acts, but like a “sacrilegious cult” which profaned the very image of God in these innocent children, the Pope stated with anguish. And one seemed to hear the words of his predecessor Benedict xvi pronounced with shame and humility, assuming the sins and crimes of the members of the Church, in the various encounters he had with groups of victims.

And Francis too, before God and his people, forcefully declared as grave and ignominious such acts which leave lifelong scars, and which result at times in the desperation of suicide. Begging forgiveness for “the sins of omission on the part of Church”, he then praised the courage of those who told the truth, shedding light on a terrible darkness which may be healed “by the embrace of the Child Jesus”.

But above all the Pope asked for the grace to weep, that the Church “may weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission”, and that wolves may never again enter God’s fold.

g.m.v.

(Vatican Radio) At least eight people were killed on Tuesday in a bomb blast that hit a busy market in northeast Nigeria. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Boko Haram group, which says it is fighting to establish an Islamist state in the country has claimed past attacks. A year-old government military operation against Boko Haram has so far failed to crush the rebels, whose insurgency has killed thousands since 2009, destabilising much of Nigeria’s northeast.

Listen to Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja talking to Vatican Radio’s Xavier Sartre 

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said, “the motivation to really confront a group of determined terrorists is still lacking, we therefore need to pray not only for the end of terrorism but also for an improvement in our system of governance, for a sense of unity in our country.”

Tuesday’s blast comes after Nigeria’s military announced  it had arrested a businessman suspected of being at the head of a Boko Haram intelligence network that helped plan the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in the northeast in mid-April.

Violence has continued unabated in northeast Nigeria in particular, with hundreds killed in the past two months alone.

 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)
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