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Pope urges help for abuse victims


Pope John Paul II told bishops during yesterday's Silver Jubilee celebrations that victims of clergy sex abuse must be "protected and assisted".

The instruction is included in his apostolic exhortation on the ministry of bishops - Pastores Gregis - which he signed at a ceremony yesterday morning in the Vatican's Paul VI auditorium.

The document urges bishops to stay "particularly close" to priests to help them keep their vows of celibacy, and to investigate seminarians before they join the priesthood.

Alluding to the recent scandals involving priests, he ordered bishops to act "firmly" to bring justice to any victims of abuse.

The Pope called on bishops to "educate and train" children and teenagers about Catholicism. "They should not yield to discouragement because of the difficulties of the moment or give up their commendable work," he wrote, "but rather intensify their efforts and aim at even better results."

The solemn signing ceremony was witnessed by more than 3000 people. Most of the cardinals who have arrived in Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pope's election were on hand, as were patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic churches and presidents of the world's episcopal conferences.

SOURCE
The Australian
Catholic World News

LINKS
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis - full text (October 16, 2003)
Summary/analysis (Catholic World News)
Pope: Help child-abuse victims (The Australian)
'Act Swiftly' over Lapses - Pope (The Scotsman)
Pastores Gregis - full text (Zenit)
Pope: Bishops in defence of justice and of the weak (AGI)
Pope: Episcopal Exhortation focuses on collegiality (AGI)


17 Oct 2003