Church Abuse Shames Pope
Pope Francis has said he is “shamed” by the Catholic church’s failure to deal with paedophile priests in France, as one of his closest advisers pushed for an inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by clergy in Italy.
A landmark report on Tuesday found that at least 330,000 children were sexually abused by clergy and lay members of church institutions in France over the past 70 years.
The pope conceded that the church had failed to put the needs of victims first in what was considered to be one of his strongest condemnations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic church to date.
“There is, unfortunately, a considerable number,” he said during his weekly audience at the Vatican on Wednesday. “I would like to express to the victims my sadness and pain for the trauma that they suffered. It is also my shame, our shame, for the incapacity of the church for too long to put them at the centre of its concerns.”
Francis urged all bishops to take action to ensure “similar dramas are not repeated” while calling on Catholics in France to work towards ensuring that the church is “a safe place for all”.
The independent inquiry was France’s first major reckoning with clerical child sexual abuse. It found an estimated 216,000 children were victims of sexual violence by French Catholic priests, deacons and other clergy from 1950 to 2020. When considering lay members of the church, such as teachers at Catholic schools, the figure rose to at least 330,000.