Midday prayer with seagull © Andrew Medichini
The Pope and the Church start an important week. This is not least due to the Child Protection Conference, which begins on Thursday in the Vatican. At the Angelus prayer Sunday, Francis called on the faithful to pray for the meeting.
Pope Francis has asked for support for the success of the anti-abuse summit that begins Thursday. "I ask you to pray for this meeting. I understand it as a step of great pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time," said the head of the Catholic Church on Sunday at the midday prayer in St. Peter's Square.
Important meeting at the Vatican
To the four-day meeting in Rome, the pope invited the presidents of all bishops' conferences, the leaders of the united Eastern churches, as well as numerous male and female religious superiors. The heads of all Vatican authorities and victims of abuse from all parts of the world will also take part – in person or with a video statement.
The deliberations are intended to identify steps toward a unified approach to fighting abuse at the level of the universal church. Child protection must be placed high on the agenda of church activities, organizers say. In addition, concrete decisions should be made on the accountability of bishops.
Pope has dismissed cardinal from priesthood
The summit is associated with high expectations worldwide and has been receiving a great deal of media attention for weeks now. The removal of former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood, which the Vatican announced Saturday, also contributes to this.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of sexual misconduct with minors and adults in connection with abuse of power; he also abused the sacrament of confession.
Pope warns against false prophets
Furthermore, the pope warned against supposed saviors and the pursuit of material wealth. "Many today present themselves as purveyors of happiness: they promise success in the shortest possible time, great profits with a flick of the wrist, magic formulas for every problem," the head of the Church said at the noon prayer service. Whoever follows such people easily runs the risk of violating the first of the Ten Commandments: Replace God with idols.
On the other hand, the Pope referred to the Beatitudes of Jesus and their contradictory logic according to worldly standards. According to this law, the poor, the hungry and the persecuted are happy, but the rich, the wealthy and the successful must beware. For God, says the Pope, is on the side of the poor. And with him there must also be the place of Christians.
"The Beatitudes of Jesus are a crucial message," the pope warned. They spurred not to rely on material things, "not to seek the happiness of illusionists and sellers of illusory worlds".