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Côte d’Ivoire: The National Marian Shrine of Abidjan celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Various commemorative events have been lined up to mark the 35th anniversary of the Marian Shrine. The events will run from Sunday, 24 October 2021, till 6 February 2022.

Cardinal O’Malley at safeguarding summit: ‘The wrongs done to God’s people must be corrected’

Cardinal Seán O’Malley celebrates Mass during a safeguarding summit in Warsaw, Poland, Sept. 20, 2021. /

Warsaw, Poland, Sep 22, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Seán O’Malley told a safeguarding summit this week that “the wrongs done to God’s people must be corrected.”

Preaching at Mass on Sept. 20 at a conference in Warsaw, Poland, the archbishop of Boston called for an end to clerical abuse and cover-ups.

“We are gathered here because so many of our brothers and sisters have suffered at the hands of abusive clergy who have perpetrated evil acts by using their office to abuse others or to cover up such abuse. And many times, those who have suffered have been rejected in their suffering when they spoke out,” he said.

“This cannot be what Jesus wants of his Church; this cannot be the Church of a loving and reconciling God. Abuse and its cover up must stop and the wrongs done to God’s people must be corrected.”

O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was speaking during a four-day meeting, “Our Common Mission of Safeguarding God’s Children,” supported by the pontifical commission and the Bishops’ Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe.

The 77-year-old Capuchin cardinal praised the “courage and witness” of abuse survivors, linking them to martyrs such as the Korean saint Andrew Kim Taegon, whose feast fell on Sept. 20, and Polish priest Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko.

“The courage and witness of so many survivors and their families and their deep concern that others are not harmed in a similar way should be recognized and welcomed. We give thanks to God for their witness and their presence among us,” he said.

“In some unexpected way, they are writing the next chapter in the history of those who suffer for the faith. They take their place among the courageous witnesses of the faith, of Andrew Kim and companions, of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko and so many others whose sufferings in the name of truth are known to God alone.”

The Warsaw meeting opened with an address by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, who said that the volume of incidents from Central and Eastern Europe “astonishes” the Vatican’s doctrinal office, which oversees clerical abuse cases.

“New tragedies are being uncovered, and the number of cases coming from our region in recent years to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith astonishes this experienced institution,” he said.

He described the steps that the Polish Church had taken in response to a series of abuse scandals, highlighting the bishops’ appointment of Archbishop Wojciech Polak as their delegate for the protection of children and youth, and the creation of the St. Joseph Foundation supporting abuse survivors.

Gądecki also noted that the Church had established the role of a “guardian” for accused and convicted clergy.

“We also recognize that clergy accused of sexual abuse -- also when convicted -- fall into a loneliness that creates a frustration that is dangerous to the accused or convicted priest, as well as to his potential victims,” he explained.

“That is why we have created the role of the guardian of accused or convicted clergy to supervise these individuals, to require them to comply with all restrictions imposed, and to support them in moments of depression or despair.”

He added that lay people had created an organization called Wounded in the Church providing a hotline for victims and access to therapists and lawyers.

“I mention these people and institutions to show the magnitude of the effort made by the Church in Poland, and also to thank those who have done much good in this area over the years,” he said.

“We take to heart the call of the Holy Father Francis not to care first of all about the image of the institution, about the ‘external side of the cup and bowl,’ but first of all about the good of the victims.”

But he added: “There is also the danger that all these actions will lull our sense of responsibility into the belief that, after all, we are already doing so much for this cause.”

“However, coming into contact with the tragedy of so many people who have been wronged, as I was able to experience personally when listening to a number of people before the Vatican summit in 2019, reveals that in the face of the enormity of the wounds, many efforts remain insufficient.”

Pope Francis sent a video message to participants in the Warsaw meeting in which he urged leaders to put the welfare of victims ahead of the Church’s reputation.

“Our expressions of sorrow must be converted into concrete pathways of reform to both prevent further abuse and to give confidence to others that our efforts will bring about real and reliable change,” he said.

“I encourage you to listen to the cry of the victims and to dedicate yourselves, with each other and with society in a broader sense, in these important discussions because they truly touch the future of the Church in Central and Eastern Europe -- not only the Church’s future, but the hearts of Christians as well. This is our responsibility.”

Speaking on Sept. 20, the Czech philosopher and theologian Msgr. Tomáš Halík said that clerical abuse was one aspect of a profound crisis in the Church today. He pointed to several root causes in the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including clericalism, triumphalism, and the abuse of power. Only thoroughgoing reform can overcome the crisis, he said.

Canon law professor Myriam Wijlens stressed the need for bishops to take a responsible approach to abuse cases. She noted that in the past some focused more on the Church’s reputation than victims’ welfare, causing a crisis of trust and a loss of moral authority.

Sept. 21 was dedicated to the theological implications of the abuse crisis. Polish priest Fr. Grzegorz Strzelczyk said that theological reflection was an essential element of the Church’s response, alongside legal, psychological, and spiritual approaches.

He underlined that the Church can only be credible if, in the face of great evil, it is capable of repentance leading to an authentic and profound change in people.

He also called for a renewed theology of ecclesiastical governance, so that the Church does not behave like a corporation preoccupied with its image.

On the final day, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Primate of Poland, addressed the conference, calling for a comprehensive response to abuse, involving psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and theologians.

He said during a closing briefing that “without real cooperation, we will continue to struggle with a clerical situation in which we run the risk that some will remain silent about these issues and not feel that this is a matter for the whole Church.”

Concluding his homily on Sept. 20, Cardinal O’Malley said: “So, we pray to God so that, in God’s own wise ways, these sufferings may be the seeds of a more resilient, a more loving and a more faithful Church, humbly recognizing its faults and steadfastly committed to seeking justice and reconciliation with those who have been harmed.”

“It is only by working courageously to bring justice and healing to the victims that we ourselves can be healed.”

Pope Francis: Christian faith in Europe is being ‘diluted by consumerism’

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Sept. 22, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that the Christian faith in Europe is being diluted by consumerism and ideologies, making prayer and the witness of humble love especially needed today.

“Pray, because this is what the People of God are called to above all: to worship, to pray, to journey, to wander, to do penance, and in this to feel the peace and the joy that the Lord gives us,” the pope said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Sept. 22.

“And this is of particular importance on the European continent, where the presence of God ... is being diluted by consumerism and in the ‘vapors’ of a unitary way of thinking ... that is the fruit of the mixture of old and new ideologies,” he said.

The pope dedicated this week’s live-streamed general audience to a reflection on his recent trip to Hungary and Slovakia, which he called “a pilgrimage of prayer in the heart of Europe.”

Pope Francis said that his apostolic journey on Sept. 12-15 began in Budapest with adoration of the Eucharist and ended with “popular piety” in Slovakia as he celebrated the country’s national feast of Our Lady of Sorrows at the Shrine of the Virgin of Seven Sorrows in Šaštín.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis said that the answer to Europe’s watered-down faith was the “healing that comes from prayer, witness, and humble love.”

“This is what I saw in the encounter with the holy people of God. What did I see? A faithful people that has suffered atheist persecution. I also saw it in the faces of our Jewish brothers and sisters, with whom we remembered the Holocaust. Because there is no prayer without remembrance,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope met with Jewish communities in Hungary and Slovakia. He recalled their suffering during the Second World War and deplored contemporary anti-Semitism.

“There is no prayer without memory. Prayer, the memory of one’s own life, of the life of one’s people, of one’s own history: making memories and remembering. This is good and helps to pray,” he said at the general audience.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis said that in his meetings with Catholic bishops in Budapest and Bratislava, he encountered directly the grateful remembrance of the deep roots of the Christian faith in Central Europe.

“Many times I have insisted that these roots are always alive, full of the lifeblood that is the Holy Spirit, and must be preserved as such: not like museum exhibits, not ideologized and exploited for the sake of prestige and power, to consolidate a closed identity,” Francis said.

“No. This would mean betraying them and making them barren,” he added.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis’ European trip began with a seven-hour visit to Budapest, where he met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The pope told journalists during a press conference on his return flight that he had discussed ecology and his concerns about a “demographic winter” in Europe with Orbán, but did not touch on immigration, a topic on which they diverge sharply.

“During this journey to the heart of Europe, I often thought of the fathers of the European Union, as they imagined it, not as an agency for distributing fashionable ideological colonizations … Understood and experienced in this way, the roots are a guarantee of the future: from them, thriving branches of hope can grow,” the pope said at his general audience.

“You can grow to the extent that you are united to the roots: strength comes to you from there. If you cut off the roots with everything new, new ideologies, this will get you nowhere. It will not make you grow. You will end up badly,” he said.

A group of refugees assisted by the Centro Mondo Migliore (Better World Center) was present at the pope’s weekly audience. They could be seen cheering and throwing their hats into the air as the pope gave them a special greeting and assured them of his prayers.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his address, Pope Francis said that Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe, were not “figures to commemorate, but rather models to imitate.”

He described the ninth-century saints who spread the Gospel in Eastern Europe as “masters from whom we can always learn the spirit and method of evangelization, as well as civil commitment.”

In Budapest, Pope Francis became the first pope to visit the International Eucharistic Congress since the year 2000.

The pope noted that there was “great participation” in the concluding Mass of the week-long congress, which drew an estimated 100,000 people, according to local authorities.

“The holy people of God, on the Lord’s Day, gathered before the mystery of the Eucharist, by which they are continually generated and regenerated,” the pope said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“They were embraced by the Cross that stood above the altar, showing the same direction indicated by the Eucharist, namely the path of humble and selfless love, of generous and respectful love towards all, of faith that purifies from worldliness and leads to simplicity.”

Pope Francis said: “Let us take up this idea again: that to be a Christian is to serve.”

Holy See commends AIEA’s commitment to a nuclear weapon-free world

On the opening day of the 65th International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Holy See has renewed the Church's call for a nuclear weapons-free world

Council of Cardinals meets to discuss next Synod of Bishops

The Holy See Press Office says the Council of Cardinal met online on Monday to speak about the next Synod of Bishops on the topic of synodality.

Mexican president proposes initiatives to ease poverty

Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador unveils a new initiative which seeks to root out the desperation of poverty, which leads to undocumented migration.

Prof. Wijlens: Church learning to listen to abuse survivors

As a safeguarding conference wraps up in the Polish capital of Warsaw, Prof. Myriam Wijlens expresses hope that the Church is learning to listen to survivors of clerical sexual abuse, but says the next step is for justice to be administered.

Cardinal O’Malley: Safeguarding part of pastoral conversion in face of abuse crisis

The President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, highlights the Church’s need for pastoral conversion in her response to the sexual abuse crisis, as a 4-day safeguarding conference concludes in Warsaw, Poland.

Church in Poland and protection of minors: from unprepared to informed

Both the Church and society in Poland were unprepared to face the crisis caused by the sexual abuse of minors. Negative reactions prevailed at first. In the last few years, thanks to journalists and clear direction from the Holy See, the Church in Poland has learned how to create an integrated structure for the protection of minors and the support of victims.

Australia: Earthquake strikes near Melbourne

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake strikes southeast Australia, causing damage in the city of Melbourne.