Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Catholic Church’s troubled past Thursday during his first stop in New York, urging “gratitude” and “hard work” to move ahead.
Francis acknowledged that sexual crimes by Catholic clergy had led the rest to “bear the shame” of those offenders. Amid the newly-restored St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan, he drew on imagery from the Book of Revelation, calling the sex abuse crisis a “great tribulation,” and offering spiritual advice for overcoming the collective pain caused by this wound. (RELATED: At Lunch With Homeless (Not Congress), Pope Francis Highlights Jesus’ Poverty)
He reminded the congregation, many of whom were local priests and nuns, of “the spirit of gratitude” and “the spirit of hard work,” both of which support Christians in following Jesus. He warned against working to false standards of “efficiency, good management and outward success which govern the business world,” insisting that a Christian’s true work is only “measured by the value it has in God’s eyes.”
He also urged the Church’s workers to avoid the temptation of thinking that too much leisure will enhance one’s service to God and his people. Instead, he pointed to Jesus’ example: “He thanked the Father, took up his cross and looked forward!” (RELATED: Pope Francis: Preaching Jesus Means Fearlessly ‘Moving Forward’)
And in a special word for the assembled nuns, he called them “women of strength” and “fighters,” fervently saying “thank you … and to tell you that I love you very much.”
The pope’s special word to nuns comes in the wake of several years of difficulty, in which a special Vatican investigation of American consecrated women led to suspicion that some women’s orders didn’t apply to the Catholic doctrine. (RELATED: Pope Francis Met Little Sisters Of The Poor In Quiet Protest Of Obamacare)
Francis’ visit to New York will continue with an address Friday morning to the U.N. General Assembly. The pope will also visit a Catholic elementary school and hold an enormous public mass at Madison Square Garden. Francis concludes his U.S. road trip this weekend in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, a conference in defense of Catholic teachings on marriage, childbearing and the family.
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