Pope Francis on Sunday sent a new letter to priests worldwide offering encouragement in light of the global sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church. In a nearly 5,000-word letter sent on the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests, the pope acknowledged the pain of priests who "feel themselves attacked and blamed for crimes they did not commit." The pontiff said that priests have shared with him "their outrage at what happened, and their frustration that 'for all their hard work, they have to face the damage that was one, the suspicion and uncertainty to which it has given rise, and the doubts, fears and disheartenment felt by more than a few.'"
Francis said that "without denying or dismissing the harm" caused by the scandals, "it would be unfair not to express our gratitude" to those priests who have fulfilled their duties "faithfully and generously." A post on the pope's Twitter page thanks priests "for all the times you welcomed those who have fallen, caring for their wounds and showing tenderness and compassion." Francis said the church is committed to reforms to prevent abuse in the future, and his letter says, "We desire conversion, transparency, sincerity and solidarity with the victims." The Archdiocese of St. Louis has released a new list of 64 clergy accused of sexual abuse; the Post-Dispatch counts 26 of the names as not being publicized before. But the archdiocese will not release when the accused clergy were removed from ministry, the parishes they were assigned to, or the number of victims they're accused of abusing.
(Read more Catholic Church sex scandals