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Pope on scandal: "Mystery of evil at work'

In his annual pre-Easter message to priests, released Thursday by the Vatican, Pope John Paul II had this to say about the sex abuse scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

At this time, too, as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis (mystery of evil) at work in the world. Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice. As the church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us _ conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace _ are called to embrace the mysterium crucis (mystery of the cross) and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness. We must beg God in his providence to prompt a wholehearted reawakening of those ideals of total self-giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry.

It is precisely our faith in Christ which gives us the strength to look trustingly to the future. We know that the human heart has always been attracted to evil, and that man will be able to radiate peace and love to those around him only if he meets Christ and allows himself to be "overtaken" by him. As ministers of the Eucharist and of sacramental reconciliation, we in particular have the task of communicating hope, goodness and peace to the world. . . .

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