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Papal Preacher: Church Must Acknowledge Weakness of Some Priests
Cindy Wooden
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, December 13, 2009
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VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Just a few hours before Pope Benedict XVI met with Irish bishops to discuss the clerical sex abuse crisis, the preacher of the papal household told him and other Vatican officials that as a matter of justice the church must publicly admit the weakness of some of its priests.

But more is needed to renew the priesthood, said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, giving his weekly Advent meditation Dec. 11.

Father Cantalamessa said priests are called to be "the sweet perfume of Christ in the world," but—as St. Paul said—"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels," which can break easily.

"From recent painful and humiliating experience, we know all too well what this means," the preacher said.

The Capuchin spoke in the "Redemptorist Mater" Chapel of the Apostolic Palace less than three hours before the pope convened a meeting with Vatican officials, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. The pope called the meeting to discuss a Nov. 26 report detailing how church officials mishandled claims of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin and failed to assist the victims.

Father Cantalamessa quoted Pope Benedict's June letter for the Year for Priests: "What is most helpful to the church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realization of the greatness of God's gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides."

The preacher said, "Naturally, making the weaknesses public also must be done in order to bring justice to the victims, and the church now recognizes this and does so as best it can."
However, he said, acknowledging weakness is not enough to "launch a renewal of priestly ministry."

Renewal will come only from the prayers of priests themselves and all the faithful and from a renewed commitment by all priests to devoting themselves totally to serving God and their brothers and sisters, he said.

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