Pope begs forgiveness for 'sacrilegious cult' of Church sex abuse
“For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering,” he said in his strongest comments yet on the crimes, delivered in the homily of a Mass with adult victims on Monday. “So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking.”
Critics of the church’s long failure to act on the cases, and of the pope’s failure to meet victims earlier in his 16-month-old pontificate, said he must quickly follow up with clear action to prove the Mass was not just a ceremonial event.
Sexual abuse scandals have haunted the Catholic Church for over two decades but became a major issue in the United States about 10 years ago. Since then they have cast a shadow over local churches in Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries and badly tarnished the Church’s image.
“It was clearly not a public relations event. It was a very profound, spiritual encounter with a pastor, a father, who is trying to understand deeply what happened,” Father Federico Lombardi said.
Victims groups have been pressing the Vatican to hold bishops accountable if they covered up crimes. The pope addressed this directly, repeating the thrust of what he said last April in a conversation with reporters.
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