Pope Again Condemns Abuse Crimes by Clergy

Recalls English Martyrs Who Defended the Eucharist

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LONDON, SEPT. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing deep sorrow over the abuse of children by clergy, and gratitude for the efforts underway to address and correct this problem.

The Pope stated this today during his homily in a Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Westminster Cathedral.

Today, the third day of the Pontiff's state visit to the United Kingdom, began with a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and other government leaders in the archbishop's palace.

Then, at 10:00 a.m., the Holy Father celebrated the Mass in the cathedral, which was attended by the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

In his homily, Benedict XVI said, "I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers."

"Above all," he continued, "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," the Pope stated, "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."

He said, "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."

Precious Blood

The Pontiff took some moments to reflect on the Precious Blood of Jesus, to which Westminster Cathedral is dedicated.

This "is the sign of God's redemptive mercy poured out upon the world through the passion, death and resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "The outpouring of Christ's blood is the source of the Church's life."

The Pontiff affirmed that "the reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice has always been at the heart of Catholic faith."

"Here in England, as we know," he said, "there were many who staunchly defended the Mass, often at great cost, giving rise to that devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist which has been a hallmark of Catholicism in these lands."

The Holy Father continued: "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.

"Here the great crucifix which towers above us serves as a reminder that Christ, our eternal high priest, daily unites our own sacrifices, our own sufferings, our own needs, hopes and aspirations, to the infinite merits of his sacrifice."

Benedict XVI noted, "We see this aspect of the mystery of Christ's precious blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice, gives new life to the Church."

"It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith," he added.

Daily sacrifice

"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," the Pope affirmed.

He said, "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."

The Pontiff concluded, "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," he added.

"For the more the lay apostolate grows, the more urgently the need for priests is felt," the Holy Father said, "and the more the laity's own sense of vocation is deepened, the more what is proper to the priest stands out."

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-30396?l=english