VATICAN CITY, Oct.6 (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Wednesday he was saddened and ashamed by the inability of the Catholic Church to deal with child sexual abuse in France and that the Church must deal with it a “safe home for all”.
“I would like to express to the victims my sadness, my grief for the trauma they have suffered and also my shame, our shame, for the inability of the church, for too long, to put them at the center of its concerns”, François told his weekly general audience.
Speaking a day after a major investigation found that French clergy had abused more than 200,000 children over the age of 70, the pontiff called on Catholics in France to take responsibility for what had happened so to make the Church a “safe home for all”. Read more
“It is the moment of shame”, he declared, calling on the bishops to do everything possible so that “similar tragedies do not happen again”.
Before the hearing began, the Pope and several visiting French bishops prayed silently for victims of abuse, a photo released by the Vatican showed.
Jean-Marc Sauve, head of the commission that wrote the report, said the Church had shown indifference to abuse for years, preferring to protect itself rather than the victims, many of whom were between 10 and 13 years old. .
The peak of abuse was from 1950 to 1970, the commission said in its report, with cases apparent resurgence in the early 1990s.
The pontiff added that he was close to French priests facing a “hard, but healthy” challenge.
The Pope had already expressed his gratitude to the victims for the courage they had to come forward and denounce what they experienced. Read more
Several hours after the pope’s speech, a Vatican court cleared two priests accused of alleged sexual abuse at a Vatican youth seminary between 2006 and 2012.
The trial is the first in the Vatican concerning sexual abuse allegedly taking place in Vatican territory.
Reporting by Angelo Amante; written by Giulia Segreti and Philip Pullella; edited by Catherine Evans, Philippa Fletcher and Toby Chopra
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