Pope Francis told a gathering of bishops from around the world that the Catholic Church is being persecuted through accusations—an apparent allusion to clerical sex-abuse scandals that have undermined the credibility of the papacy and church hierarchy over the course of this year.
Addressing the closing session of a synod of bishops at the Vatican on Saturday, the pope repeated warnings he has made in recent weeks against the “Great Accuser,” or the devil, who “in this moment is accusing us strongly, and this accusation becomes persecution,” and who seeks to “soil the church.”
“This is the moment to defend our mother” the church, said the pope, in remarks unlikely to mollify critics who say he has failed to recognize the hierarchy’s responsibility for the abuse crisis. “The accuser is attacking our mother through us, and no one touches our mother.”
The gathering of more than 250 bishops was dedicated to the topic of youth, exploring how the church can better engage young Catholics and help them find roles in the church, whether as priests, nuns or lay members.
In a twist on the usual protocol at such gatherings, more than 30 lay Catholics below the age of 30 years attended the sessions, where they enlivened the atmosphere by clapping and cheering during some of the speeches.
SOURCE: Francis X. Rocca
The Wall Street Journal