At an audience for U.S. bishops, Pope Benedict XVI. on Saturday called for the same high standards for all public institutions in dealing with sexual abuse. It is not only the Catholic Church that should be urged to do so, said the pope, who condemned child abuse as a scourge on society.
The Catholic Church's approach to sexual abuse, according to Benedict XVI, can be. Be a model for the whole of society. "It is my hope that the Church's serious efforts to confront this reality will help society at large to recognize cases of sexual abuse in their true extent and their devastating consequences," the pope told U.S. bishops Saturday.
The pope also expressed concern about growing difficulties in practicing the Christian faith in a secularized environment. The faithful often face objections, inflammatory questions and the cynicism of a society that has lost its roots, he said. This makes the proclamation of the Gospel in new ways in Christian countries all the more urgent, Benedict XVI said.
Some of the U.S. bishops are currently in Rome for their ad limina visit, usually due about every five years. Bishops report to the pope and the Roman Curia on the situation of their local churches.
Decay of the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of society
The current profound economic and political changes are a particularly appropriate moment to attract people to the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI emphasized. highlighting. He said there is a growing number of people of different religious and political persuasions who are concerned about the future of democratic polities. This group registers with regret a decline in the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of society. In this situation, Christians could be particularly convincing with their commitment to morality and truth, as well as their message of hope.
The pope continued in his address by saying that he had traveled to the United States in 2008 to see for himself the suffering of victims of abuse. At the same time, he said, he wanted to look at the "honorable efforts" being made to protect children and to "deal appropriately and transparently" with allegations of abuse.