Pope Francis told a gathering of bishops that the Church needs to be protected from the ‘great accuser’ – in an apparent reference to criticism the Vatican has received over child sex abuse scandals.
He was speaking at the end of the Synod of Bishops on Saturday and claimed that that the ‘mother’ Church is being persecuted through accusations from people ‘seeking to destroy it’.
His comments, made at the Vatican, seem to be aimed at those critical of the Church because of a number of clerical sex abuse scandals recently.
Pope Francis told a meeting of bishops from all over the world that some people were trying to destroy the Church with accusations of sexual abuse
Pope Francis told assembled bishops that the actions of Church members fuel the so-called great accuser.
According to the Catholic Herald, he said: ‘Through us, the great accuser wants to attack. Our Mother (the Church) is holy but because of our sins, the great accuser always takes advantage.’
The Pope explained that Christians suffer persecution because of their faith all over the world, but added that continuous accusations are another form of persecution.
Although he earlier warned abuse would not be tolerated, he also called on Church members to defend it against persecution from allegations of abuse
He said it was ‘time to defend the mother’ and insisted that the Church as a whole cannot be dirtied by accusations of abuse against its members.
In his comments, he claimed that ‘the great accuser’ intended to attack the Church and called on members to defend it.
He urged the world not to taint the whole of the Catholic Church because of the scandals.
Meanwhile, some bishops from Asia and Africa have termed the abuse scandal a ‘Western problem’.
Church leaders from around the world attended the closing mass of the synod which many had hoped would take the global struggle against paedophile priests up a notch.
Also at the Synod, some bishops from Asia and Africa have reportedly termed the abuse scandal a ‘Western problem’
As the talks began, Pope Francis warned again that abuse and cover ups would not be tolerated.
But as US Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich told the press, priestly sexual abuse was ‘not on the front burner of all countries’.
‘The resistance of some bishops’ to discuss a crisis which has hit countries from Germany to America and Chile limited talk time at the synod, US Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput told the Catholic News Service agency.
‘Some say that (sex abuse) really is an issue of the Western world,’ he said, adding that he wished that ‘we had spent more time not only talking about (the crisis), but apologizing to people for it’.
Another topic brought up at the meeting was the fate of Christians in the Middle East.
Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako of Baghdad appealed to the Pope, the synod members and young people to not forget about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
He said: ‘If the Middle East is emptied of Christians, Christianity will be left without its roots.
‘We need your humanitarian and spiritual support as well as your solidarity, friendship and closeness until the storm passes.’