“I will not stop giving thanks for you”

Pope Francis welcomes priests to the Vatican © Stefano dal Pozzolo (CBA)

In a letter, Pope Francis expresses gratitude for the work of priests. Especially in "these difficult times," they must not be discouraged. The pope also spoke out on the ie of abuse.

Against the backdrop of the abuse scandal, Pope Francis has backed Catholic priests worldwide and warned them against resignation. Many of them would be ridiculed or blamed for offenses they did not commit.

In this situation, they needed encouragement and support from their bishops, according to a lengthy letter from the pope published Sunday. Worldwide, according to Vatican figures, 414.600 priests.

Pope calls for rethinking of power ies

Francis emphatically called for a new way of dealing with power as well as spiritual and sexual abuse in the church. If in the past the subliminal became a form of response to the "culture of abuse," now it is a matter of repentance, transparency, sincerity and solidarity with the victims.

Recently, he said, the "silent or silenced cry" of abuse victims of Catholic ministers has become more audible.

Francis spoke of a "time of suffering in the lives of the victims," but also for their families and for the whole church. "Without denying or failing to recognize the harm caused by some of our brothers, it would be unjust not to recognize many priests who consistently and irreproachably spend all they are and have for the good of others," the pope wrote.

"We all need the comfort"

Francis published his letter on 160. Anniversary of the death of French clergyman Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859), known as the "Cure of Ars" and patron saint of Catholic priests. The multi-page letter appeared in eight languages, including German.

Catholic priests, like the Cure of Ars, work "on the front lines" and put their heads down every day without fuss, the pope wrote. At the same time, he urged them to recognize their limitations and not to fall prey to a "sweet sadness" out of despondency and isolation. "We all need the consolation and strength from God and from brothers and sisters in difficult times."

Francis spoke of a "blessed insecurity" that frees one from the tendency to "rely on one's own strength and feel superior to others" because one adheres to certain norms.

In times of desolation and apathy, they should not isolate themselves from other priests or from the community. "Even less should you retreat into closed and elitist groups. 'This in the end suffocates or poisons the spirit,' pope wrote.

"I will not cease to give thanks for you"

In the name of all the people of God, Francis speaks as a brother and father to his priests. With their lives they testified to "the compassion and mercy that only Jesus can give us". At the end of his letter, the Pope wrote: "I do not cease to give thanks for you: for your dedication and your mission."

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