Marked with ashes, Christians set off on a Lenten journey where they strive to leave behind everything that will turn to dust and instead focus on drawing closer to God and God’s promise of eternal life, Pope Francis said.
The figure comes from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2017.
The kingdom of God is being established slowly in the world through patience and gentleness and not by violence or force, Pope Francis said.
The Lenten season is a reminder for Catholics that overindulgence ruptures communion with God, with others, and with creation, Pope Francis said.
The time has come for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth, Pope Francis said, closing a global four-day summit on child protection in the Catholic Church.
The clerical sexual abuse crisis has caused “serious scandal” in the Catholic Church and in society “because of the dramatic suffering of the victims, as well as the unjustifiable lack of attention to them” and attempts by church leaders to cover up the crimes of the guilty, Pope Francis said.