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Pope asks for forgiveness for ‘scandals’ in Rome and the Vatican

Pope Francis delivers a blessing as he arrives in St Peter's Square today (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for scandals that have taken place in the Church and in the Vatican.

During his general audience in St Peter’s Square today, the Pope said: “Before beginning the catechesis, I would like to ask forgiveness in the name of the church for the scandals that have happened in this last period both in Rome and at the Vatican. I ask forgiveness.”

The Pope’s apology Wednesday came at the beginning of a catechetical reflection that was focused on caring for children.

During his reflection, the Pope warned against adults coming in between a child’s relationship with God. He said: “The tender and mysterious rapport of God with the souls of children should not ever be violated,” said Francis. “It is a real rapport, that God wants and God cares for. The child is ready from birth to feel loved by God.”

Vatican commentator, John Thavis wrote on his blog that it was not clear which scandals Pope Francis was referring to as there were several to choose from.

Thavis listed a number of scandals that the Pope might be referring to: “The gay official of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation who recently came out with his partner, saying the climate at his workplace was homophobic? Accusations of sexual impropriety made by a group of Catholics against priests and an official of the Carmelite religious order in Rome? The resignation of Rome’s leftist mayor, Ignazio Marino, following press reports that the pope was unhappy with the mayor’s action on a number of issues?

“The accusations of sexual abuse against a Vatican diplomat, who was found dead in his Vatican residence in late August before he could stand trial? Or this week’s leak of a “Letter of 13” cardinals to the pope, contesting the direction and methods of the current Synod of Bishops on the Family, which was followed by a series of confusing denials and clarifications?”

Thavis also said that the Pope’s subsequent references to the care of children would suggest that it was a reference to clerical abuse but added: “Beyond sexual abuse, there is growing concern at the Vatican over the multiplication of scandals and a return of the ‘Vatileaks’ syndrome – a climate of revelations, suspicion and rumors of a “gay lobby” that helped convince Pope Benedict XVI to resign in 2013. The most notorious chapter, played out in 2012, was the systematic leaking of papal documents to an Italian journalist by Benedict’s butler.”