Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed “shame” over the sexual abuse of children by French Catholic priests, laid bare this week in a devastating report.
“I want to express my sorrow and pain to the victims for the trauma they have suffered. And also my shame, our shame, my shame for the inability of the Church to keep them at the center of our concerns. long,” said the pontiff in his general audience.
“I pray and we all pray together – glory to you Lord, shame to us. It is a time of shame.”
Francis urged the clergy to keep working to ensure such situations “do not recur”, offering their support to the French clergy in the face of “this trial which is difficult but healthy”.
And he invited French Catholics “to fulfill their responsibilities to ensure that the Church is a safe home for all”.
An independent commission revealed on Tuesday that French Catholic clergy sexually abused some 216,000 minors in the seven decades since 1950, a “massive incident” that was covered with a “veil of silence”.
The commission’s two-and-a-half-year investigation and 2,500-page report prompted outrage as the Catholic Church in France and around the world faces a growing number of abuse claims and lawsuits.
The pope issued a statement Tuesday through his spokesman expressing grief for the victims, but went further in a personal message delivered during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
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