Pope Francis: Harassment scandals driving people away from church

Pope Francis said at a meeting with young people in Tallinn on Tuesday that scandals related to sexual abuse and financing are driving people away from the church and therefore the church must change the way it acts if it wants to keep future generations with itself.

“They are outraged by sexual and economic scandals that are not met with clear condemnation, as well as our unpreparedness to to really appreciate the lives and sensibilities of the young, and simply by the passive role we assign them,” he told young people in the Kaarli Lutheran Church in the Estonian capital.

“When we, adults, refuse to acknowledge some explicit situation, then tell us directly: ‘Do you not understand then?’ Some of the more straightforward among you might even say: ‘Do you not understand that nobody is listening to you anymore or believe in what you wish to relay?’ We ourselves must change; we have to realize that in order to stand by your side we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off,” the pope said.

“We wish to answer to them: just as you said, we wish to be a transparent, welcoming, honest community open to the people, communicating, accessible, glad and interactive,” the pope added.

Pope Francis arrived in Tallinn for a one-day visit Tuesday morning, the final leg of his Baltic tour on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the three countries. In Tallinn, the pope had a meeting with the civil authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps in the Rose Garden of the presidential palace, attended an ecumenical meeting with young people in Kaarli Church, and met with those assisted by the charitable works of the Church in the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.

The mass was the last of the scheduled events of the pope’s program in Tallinn, after which the church leader will head back to the Vatican.

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