Pope apologises for Church scandals

Specific cases not referred to during general audience address

(ANSA) - Vatican City, October 14 - Pope Francis apologised on behalf of the Catholic Church for recent scandals in the Vatican and in Rome at his general audience on Wednesday.
    "Jesus is realistic and it is inevitable that scandals occur," the pope said. "Woe to the world because of scandals. For if must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.
    "Before I start this catechism, I'd like to ask you for forgiveness, in the name of the Church, for the scandals that have occurred both in Rome and in the Vatican in recent times".
    The pope did not specify which scandals he was referring to.
    Vatican spokesman father Federico Lombardi said he was referring to acts by "men of the Church" and, therefore, not to the expenses furore that recently led Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino to quit or other problems to afflict the administration of the Italian capital.
    The papacy of Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI, was badly hit by cases of sexual abuse of children by clergymen, financial scandals at the Vatican and the so-called VatiLeaks case regarding to the leaking of confidential Church documents, which saw Benedict's butler convicted.
    Months after Francis was elected head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, a senior Vatican prelate arrested for trying to illegally smuggle cash into Italy.
    More recently, the Vatican defrocked former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic and former archbishop Jozef Wesolowski for child abuse before he died this year.
    The day before the start of this month's synod on the family, Polish priest and theologian Krzysztof Charamsa announced that he was in a relationship with a man and said he had come out to challenge the Church's "backwards" attitude to homosexuality.
    In recent weeks the Church in Rome has been rocked by the case of clergymen belonging to the Barefoot Carmelites order being transferred from a parish following reports of them being linked to a gay prostitution ring. During Wednesday's audience, the Argentine pontiff said said that defence of the family is protection of humanity. "Only if we look at children with the eyes of Jesus can we understand how in defending the family, we're protecting humanity," Francis said. Francis appealed to the faithful to pray for the Synod on the Family so that bishops will make "the decisions that best serve the family". He also said that mothers and fathers transmit a "spark of God" to their children.