Pope Francis Takes Responsibility for ‘All the Evil’ of Sexually Abusive Priests
Francis made the statement to a Catholic children’s organization at the Vatican on Friday, and some have said the comments are his strongest regarding sexual abuse in the Church.
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests — quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests — to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” Francis said, according to the Vatican Radio’s website.
Francis said the acts of sexual abuse by priests were “evil,” according to the website, and that these priests had committed “moral damage.”
The statement comes about two months after a United Nations report in February concluded the Church was protecting itself rather than protecting victims of sexual abuse. The statement asked that child abusers resign or be fired, adding that Church documents should be made available to law enforcement officials so that anyone who committed abuse or covered it up would be held accountable, according to the New York Times.
During an interview in March, Francis defended the church’s stance toward priests who have committed sexual abuse.
Accusations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have abounded for years, and the Church has also been accused of either trying to cover up the abuse or not doing enough to prevent it in the future.
Francis set up a Church committee to help victims of sexual abuse committed by priests in 2013, and early in 2014, he ensured that the sexual abuse of a child was considered a crime by the Vatican. The Pope has also directed Church officials to look into cases in which priests are accused of sexual abuse.