On Wednesday evening, the pope attended a prayer meeting with other bishops. That prayer service involving the pope and his meeting with the American Catholic bishops took place around 6 p.m. on the campus of Catholic University. The pope sat in a white chair and addressed the U.S. Catholic bishops. Francis Cardinal George was off to his right, at his elbow. The pope arrived at Catholic University of America in his Popemobile. As church bells rang, there was a lot of enthusiasm among the crowd, some of them having waited for some time. There were police sharpshooters waiting in surrounding balconies. Security has been extraordinarily tight. The official welcoming ceremony at the White House Wednesday morning was fit for royalty, with a look back into America's history and a crowd that could barely contain its enthusiasm for a pope celebrating his birthday. For more than an hour, Pope Benedict told America's Catholic leaders what was on his mind. On the list were what he calls the alarming decrease in marriages in the United States, the availability of pornography and violence in the media and the impact of the sexual abuse scandal on the church. Inside the Catholic National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the pope told the bishops that sexual abuse by priests is gravely immoral behavior, causing enormous pain to church communities. "Among the countersigns to the gospel of life in America and other places, that has caused deep shame, is the sexual abuse of minors," Pope Benedict said. "The consequences of the dreadful sexual abuse of minors by some priests, and the its being sometimes poorly handled by bishops, makes both the faith of people and the public life of the church more problematic," said Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago.
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