ROME – On the same day he accepted the resignation of U.S. Cardinal Donald Wuerl over allegations of mishandling sexual abuse allegations, Pope Francis on Friday apologized to a group of 1,200 Spanish young people for the Church’s scandals.
“First, I want to ask for your forgiveness for the scandals that take place within our Church,” Francis said on Friday, as shown in a video shared on Twitter by Spanish journalist Eva Fernandez of Radio Cope.
The pope then said that he wanted to apologize not only for the “scandals of abuse. Not only those … So many more. Scandals of worldliness, of attachment to values that are not from the Gospel, of incoherence of life.”
“You see this and say, ‘I’m becoming an atheist,’” he said. “Obviously, that seems more coherent. I ask for your pardon, pardon for scandalizing you.”
Francis’s words came as he was addressing a group of Spanish pilgrims currently in Rome because of the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
The young people gathered Friday came from all over Spain to participate in what they called a “Hakuna All” Meeting. Francis met with them in St. Peter’s Basilica, where the group had a Holy Hour.
A press statement from the group said that the meeting is a response to Francis’s call in 2013, during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, to “create a havoc” in their dioceses. “Hakuna,” as the movement created by a group of Spaniards who were in Brazil is called, claims to be present in 20 cities in Spain as well as South Korea, London and Boston.
Though for many Hakuna [Matata] is part of the soundtrack for Disney’s classic film The Lion King, it’s also a term in the Swahili language that roughly translates to “no worries.” For this group of young Spanish Catholics, it’s a movement formed by followers of Christ who “create spaces of life.”
They describe themselves as young women and men who use music to remind others of the beauty of life and to show them the beauty of Christ. They claim their music has spread because when a member of Hakuna travels outside of Spain, they find a way to organize a Holy Hour – an hour of prayer in front of the Holy Sacrament.
The music is available on Spotify under Hakuna Group Music.
“I feel pain,” Francis told them on Friday. “I ask the Lord that the mistakes, and I think of the mistakes made by us, the shepherds, don’t keep us away from Jesus Christ, who’s the only source of happiness.”
According to Spanish news agency EFE, the pope said the “mistakes” by the shepherds often occur when they forget to be “shepherds and become owners.”
“This clericalism that causes so much damage… I apologize for that too.”
Francis also urged the young people from Spain not to be “mediocre, to create havoc inside and outside the parishes,” before saying that the Church needs young people, urging them to go out to the world and be “protagonists.”
If young people “don’t remain in the Church, the Church not only will be without a future, but also without a present,” Francis said.
He also spoke to them about happiness, urging the young people to be joyful because “sadness is the place of the devil, what he needs to corrupt.”