Friday, September 25, 2015

At St. Patrick's, Pope Francis Talks of Muslims, Sex Abuse Scandal and Liberal Nuns

Arriving in New York City, the second leg of his trip to the United States, Pope Francis last night delivered a homily during vespers at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Speaking in Spanish, the Pope again dealt with topics that touched political chords in the United States. New York Times has the translation of his remarks in the form they were prepared for delivery. ABC News has a translation that includes a preliminary paragraph the Pope added extending greetings to "my Muslim brothers and sisters ... as they celebrate the feast of the sacrifice."  He also extended his "sentiments of closeness" to Muslims on the deaths of hundreds in the crush of Hajj crowds near Mecca yesterday. (See prior posting.)

In remarks that are likely to be criticized by victim advocates, the Pope gave support to American priests in the wake of Church sex abuse scandals:
I know that, as a presbyterate in the midst of God’s people, you suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members… In the words of the Book of Revelation, I know well that you “have come forth from the great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty, and I thank God for your faithful service to his people.
During his remarks, the Pope also gave a particularly strong shout out to American nuns, who had been the subject of criticism during Pope Benedict XVI's tenure for their not hewing closely enough to conservative positions of the American bishops. (See prior posting.)  Pope Francis said:
In a special way I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to the religious women of the United States. What would the Church be without you? Women of strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say “thank you”, a big thank you… and to tell you that I love you very much.
I know that many of you are in the front lines in meeting the challenges of adapting to an evolving pastoral landscape. Whatever difficulties and trials you face, I ask you, like Saint Peter, to be at peace and to respond to them as Christ did: he thanked the Father, took up his cross and looked forward!
USA Today reports that the Pope was twice interrupted by applause during his remarks praising American nuns.