Pope asks forgiveness for priest sex abuse

The Associated Press
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness Friday from people who were sexually abused by priests, and vowed that there will be no going back in the church’s fight to protect children.

Monsignor Georg Gaenswein listens to Pope Francis, as he delivers his message during an audience with Gregoriana University' students in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Thursday. — Associated Press photo

Francis made the off-the-cuff remarks after coming under criticism from victims’ advocacy groups for a perceived lack of attention to the problem and ongoing demands that he sanction bishops who covered up for pedophiles.

In his remarks to members of the International Catholic Child Bureau, a French Catholic network of organizations that protects children’s rights, Francis said he felt “called to take it upon myself” and “ask forgiveness” for the evil that some priests had committed against children.

“The church is aware of this damage,” he was quoted as saying by Vatican Radio. “We don’t want to take a step back in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I think we must be even stronger! You don’t play around with the lives of children.”

Last month, Francis named the initial members of a commission to advise him on best practices to combat sexual abuse in the church. Half of them are women and one was assaulted by a priest as a child.

The Vatican has said the members will draft the statutes of the commission and would look into the legal “duties and responsibilities” of church personnel, a suggestion that they might take up the critical question of disciplining complicit bishops. Church law provides for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but to date no bishop has been disciplined for protecting an abuser.

Francis named the commission members after coming under fire for taking no action since the commission itself was announced in December. Victims groups also have been irked that he hasn’t met with survivors and recently told a newspaper that the church had been unfairly attacked for its abuse record.

Organizations: International Catholic Child Bureau

Geographic location: Vatican

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Huck
    April 11, 2014 - 12:00

    OK Frankie; it's time to pony up. Talk is cheap. To show how sincere you are about getting to the bottom of this abuse, how about giving up all pedophiles that you know that are or were connected over, say the past 100 years. How about opening up the church's book of dirty little secrets for a thorough examination by law agencies around the world. What, you don't want to do that. No, I didn't think so.