Pope, in candid speech, speaks of 'exodus' from the Church
By Philip Pullella
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Pope Francis, in a stunningly candid assessment of the state of the Catholic Church, said on Saturday it should look in the mirror and ask why so many people are leaving the faith of their fathers.
On the penultimate day of his trip to Brazil, Francis delivered a long address to the country's bishops in which he suggested elements of what could become a blueprint for stopping what he called an "exodus."
"I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts?" he said in a speech remarkable for its frankness about the hemorrhaging of the Church in many countries.
The Argentine pope, who is in Rio for a Catholic international jamboree known as World Youth Day, referred to what he called "the mystery of those who leave the Church" because they think it "can no longer offer them anything meaningful or important."
The Church has been losing members throughout the world to secularism and to other religions, including in Latin America, where evangelical groups have won over many converts.
He acknowledged that many people see the Church as a "relic of the past," too caught up in itself, and a "prisoner of its own rigid formulas."
While he said the Church "must remain faithful" to its religious doctrine, it had to be closer to the people and their real problems.
"Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people's side, of doing more than simply listening to them," he said. Continued...