Pope Francis made a surprising apology during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square, asking for forgiveness for recent scandals.
“Before I begin the Catechism,” Pope Francis addressed the thousands assembled.“I want to ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred recently either in Rome or in the Vatican. I ask you for forgiveness.”
It remains unclear which scandals the Pope was referring to but his spokesman, Reverend Federico Lombardi, clarified that the apology was not in regards to “political” situations involving the recent resignation of Rome’s Mayor Ignazio Marino. However, there has been no shortage of other scandals surrounding the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican in the last two weeks.
Just last week, a Vatican official, Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, publicly announced he was gay, and that he was “happy and proud of his identity.” Msgr Charamsa, 43, revealed he was in a relationship, and appealed to the Church for condemnation of homophobia within its walls. The Vatican subsequently dismissed him.
Almost simultaneously, there was a circulation of reports that a priest in Rome had allegedly engaged in sexual relations with male sex workers, to the full knowledge of his superiors.
Also last week, a priest said in a television interview that the abused children in many pedophilia cases were at fault, as opposed to the abusers, because they were merely seeking affection they were not receiving at home. His remarks caused a huge uproar and ultimately led to the priest’s dismissal from the clergy.
“The word of Jesus is strong today, woe to the world because of scandals,” Pope Francis continued in his address. “Jesus is a realist. He says it is inevitable that there will be scandals. But woe to the man who causes scandals.”
It is unclear which of the aforementioned scandals, if any, Pope Francis meant to address but the Rev. Lombardi did make a point to add that if the Pope had wanted to single out any particular instance, he would have done so.
This is not the first time the Pope has apologized on behalf of the Vatican; he has previously asked forgiveness for the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy, and for the church’s historical mistreatment of Protestants and indigenous people.