Pope John Paul II yesterday urged US bishops to give more support to priests, in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked their church over the past two years. Speaking to bishops from Boston and Hartford on their 'ad limina' visit he said the abuse crisis had "cast a shadow" on the Church. And he asked them to encourage their flock to persevere in their faith. The bishops met with the Pope at Castelgandolfo. He began his talk by speaking of the importance of the evangelization of culture. He said: "A fundamental challenge in this area is surely that of bringing about a fruitful encounter between the Gospel and the new global culture which is rapidly taking shape as a result of unprecedented growth in communications and the expansion of a world economy. I am convinced that the Church in the United States can play a critical role in meeting this challenge, since this emerging reality is in many ways the fruit of contemporary Western, and particularly American, experiences, attitudes and ideals." "... As the tragic events of 11 September 2001 have made clear, the building of a global culture of solidarity and respect for human dignity is one of the great oral tasks confronting humanity today." After praising "the traditional generosity of the faithful of the United States to the Church's mission " in sending missionaries around the world, he said: "May the Church in your country discover the sources for a profound interior renewal through a revitalization of missionary zeal." The Pope then noted that the American church had been "chastened by the events of the past two years, and much effort has rightly been expended on understanding and addressing the issues of sexual abuse which have cast a shadow on her life and ministry. As you continue to confront the significant spiritual and material challenges which your local Churches are experiencing in this regard, I ask you to encourage all the faithful - clergy, religious and lay - to persevere in their public witness of faith and hope." "In a particular way I would ask you to be strongly supportive of your brother priests, many of whom have suffered deeply because of the much-publicized failings of some of the Church's ministers. ... Convey my personal gratitude for the generous and selfless service which mark the lives of so many American priests, as well as my deep appreciation of their daily efforts to be models of holiness and pastoral charity in the Christian communities entrusted to their care. ... In a word, tell your priests that I hold them in my heart!" Source: VIS
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