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In wake of scandals, pope’s Ireland visit to bring hope, says Secretary of State

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Francis seeks to contribute to faith being "reborn in hearts"

Pope Francis aims to bring Ireland a message of hope as the country continues to grapple with the scandal of sexual abuse committed by members of the local clergy, according to Cardinal Petro Parolin, the pope’s secretary of state, in an interview on Vatican News today. 

The Church was and continues to be “deeply struck” by the phenomenon of sexual abuse, the prelate lamented. This has had a “devastating impact” on the Church’s witness, particularly in Ireland. The Church, he said, “recognizes its failures, errors, and sins” and has taken measures to address them.

This is why, Cardinal Parolin said, Pope Francis is still insisting on Christians’ “first duty”: to be close to the victims and to help them rebuild their lives. The pope’s trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families on August 25 and 26 is thus coming “under the sign of hope.”

For the Cardinal Secretary of State, this visit seeks to contribute a “message of opening” so that the faith can “be reborn in hearts and bear fruits of peace and happiness.” He said this will come particularly through “the liberating, transforming, salvific power” of God’s love, which is experienced in families. 

Reports on the sexual abuse of minor by clergy were prominent in 2010, leading Pope Benedict XVI to call all the bishops of Ireland to Rome. He subsequently wrote a letter to the faithful of Ireland about the scandal.

“Educating for life”

In a global culture marked by solitude and isolation, he said, the World Meeting of Families will be the occasion to insist on the capacity of the family to awaken a sense of belonging and communion.

Christians must also try to stimulate the political class in order to make them attentive to the realities of families, and to get them to propose suitable legislative measures.

The meeting in Dublin will also be an occasion to “reaffirm the rich teachings of the Church” on the topic of the family. It is especially about supporting the family in its mission of “passing on and educating in the value of life.”

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