It happened Thursday night in Quebec, during vespers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame:
At the cathedral, Francis pointed the church in Canada onto a new path after being devastated by what he called “the evil perpetrated by some of its sons and daughters.”
In his homily, Pope Francis acknowledged the challenge of ministering in the wake of allegations about clerical sexual abuse and the abuses against Indigenous children at church-run residential schools but also the difficulties of sharing the Gospel in an increasingly secular society.
To proclaim the Gospel, the pope told them, “we must also be credible.”
Credibility, he said, comes from the witness of one’s life, from concretely demonstrating “the compassion that asks for nothing in return [and] the mercy that silently speaks of Christ.”
Speaking in Spanish, with accompanying translation in French and English—the two official languages of this country—he told them:
I think in particular of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people, scandals that require firm action and an irreversible commitment. Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims. The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: Never again!It was his first explicit reference to the abuse scandal, and significantly he extended his request for forgiveness “to all the victims.”
They listened in silence as he spoke but as soon as he finished speaking they gave him a rousing, prolonged standing ovation. His inspiring words had reached their hearts.