Pope Francis Cites Victims From Church's 'Difficult Moments'

The pontiff appears to be addressing the child abuse scandal.

ByABC News
September 23, 2015, 12:32 PM

— -- Pope Francis is clearly trying to send a message in his Washington, D.C., remarks today as he alluded to the church child abuse scandal in a speech to U.S. bishops.

He does not specifically reference the pedophilia that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church, but he makes mention of the victims.

"I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice," the pope says in his speech, which he delivered in Italian.

"I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated," he said.

He goes on to say that "it is not my intention to offer a plan or to devise a strategy" nor has he "come to judge you or to lecture you."

"I have no wish to tell you what to do, because we all know what it is that the Lord asks of us. Instead, I would turn once again to the demanding task – ancient yet never new – of seeking out the paths we need to take and the spirit with which we need to work," Pope Francis said.

PHOTO: Pope Francis is seen before the start of the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Sept. 23, 2015 in Washington.
Pope Francis is seen before the start of the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Sept. 23, 2015 in Washington.

He did cite about others later in his speech, listing "the innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature."

"It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent," he said

Here is the full text of his speech, delivered today at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington D.C.:

Dear Brother Bishops,I am pleased that we can meet at this point in the apostolic mission which has brought me to your country. I thank Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Kurtz for their kind words in your name. I am very appreciative of your welcome and the generous efforts made to help plan and organize my stay.

As I look out with affection at you, their pastors, I would like to embrace all the local Churches over which you exercise loving responsibility. I would ask you to share my affection and spiritual closeness with the People of God throughout this vast land.

The heart of the Pope expands to include everyone. To testify to the immensity of God’s love is the heart of the mission entrusted to the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of the One who on the cross embraced the whole of mankind. May no member of Christ’s Body and the American people feel excluded from the Pope’s embrace. Wherever the name of Jesus is spoken, may the Pope’s voice also be heard to affirm that: “He is the Savior”! From your great coastal cities to the plains of the Midwest, from the deep South to the far reaches of the West, wherever your people gather in the Eucharistic assembly, may the Pope be not simply a name but a felt presence, sustaining the fervent plea of the Bride: “Come, Lord!”