|Deep Sorrow for Innocent Victims of Child Abuse
Vatican Information Service
September 18, 2010
VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2010 (VIS) - In the archbishop of Westminster's palace this morning, before today's Eucharistic celebration in Westminster Cathedral, the Holy Father met with David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, and Harriet Harman, acting leader of the opposition.
Westminster Cathedral is the main place of worship of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, seat of the archbishop of Westminster, an office currently held my Msgr. Vincent Nichols. John Paul II celebrated Mass in the cathedral in 1982 and Queen Elizabeth II - at the invitation of the then archbishop, Cardinal Basil Hume - participated in an ecumenical celebration there in 1995, marking the first time a British monarch had entered a Catholic church since the time of the Reformation.
In his homily during the votive Mass for the Most Precious Blood of Christ, to which the cathedral is dedicated, the Holy Father remarked that "the visitor to this cathedral cannot fail to be struck by the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ's body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the Innocent Victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God".
"The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ embraces in turn the mystery of our Lord's continuing passion in the members of His Mystical Body, the Church in every age".
Benedict XVI highlighted how "we see this aspect of the mystery of Christ's Precious Blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age. ... It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the Church and the redemption of the world. My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this Eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually.
"Here too", he added, "I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, His sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests".
After then recalling how Vatican Council II had spoken "eloquently of the indispensable role of the laity in carrying forward the Church's mission", the Holy Father noted that "the Council's appeal to the lay faithful to take up their baptismal sharing in Christ's mission echoed the insights and teachings of John Henry Newman. May the profound ideas of this great Englishman continue to inspire all Christ's followers in this land to conform their every thought, word and action to Christ, and to work strenuously to defend those unchanging moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and confirmed by the Gospel, stand at the foundation of a truly humane, just and free society".
"How much contemporary society needs this witness!", the Pope exclaimed. "How much we need, in the Church and in society, witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ! One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God's Word to a world which all too often sees the Gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society.
"Let us pray, then, that the Catholics of this land will become ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people, called to consecrate the world to God through lives of faith and holiness. And may this increase of apostolic zeal be accompanied by an outpouring of prayer for vocations to the ordained priesthood. ... May many young men in this land find the strength to answer the Master's call to the ministerial priesthood, devoting their lives, their energy and their talents to God, thus building up His people in unity and fidelity to the Gospel, especially through the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice".
At the end of Mass, the Pope went out to greet young people gathered in front of the cathedral. Recalling the theme of his trip to the United Kingdom (Heart speaks unto heart - cor ad cor loquitur) he reminded them that "we were made to give love, to make it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realise that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride".
"Every day we have to choose to love", Benedict XVI insisted, "and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in His Word, and from the grace which He bestows on us in the Sacraments of His Church. This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus ... is calling you to spend time with Him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day, ... because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of His Church and the redemption of our world".
The Pope then unveiled and blessed a mosaic of St. David, patron of Wales, and lit a candle before an image of Our Lady of Cardigan who is venerated at a shrine in that country.
Before returning to the apostolic nunciature, the Holy Father again met briefly with the archbishop of Canterbury, who was present at the Eucharistic celebration.
PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (1180)
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