Wake up to what is happening to so many of today's innocents and be moved by their plight, he says
Stand up and protect children from exploitation, slaughter and abuse, which includes committing to a policy of "zero tolerance" of sexual abuse by clergy, Pope Francis told the world's bishops, reports Catholic News Service.
Wake up to what is happening to so many of today's innocents and be moved by their plight and the cries of their mothers to do everything to protect life, helping it "be born and grow," he said in a letter sent to bishops commemorating the feast of the Holy Innocents, Dec. 28.
The Vatican press office published the letter and translations from the original Italian on Jan. 2.
Just as King Herod's men slaughtered the young children of Bethlehem in his "unbridled thirst for power," there are plenty of new Herods today — gang members, criminal networks and "merchants of death" — "who devour the innocence of our children" through slave labor, prostitution and exploitation, he said. Wars and forced immigration also strip children of their innocence, joy and dignity, he added.
The church weeps not only for children suffering the pain of poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, forced displacement, slavery and sexual exploitation, the pope said, she weeps "because she recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests."
Deploring "the sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power," the church also begs for forgiveness, he said.
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