July 21, 2014

VATICAN CITY – Asking for forgiveness, Pope Francis told abuse survivors that "despicable actions" caused by clergy have been hidden for too long and had been "camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained."

"There is no place in the Church's ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not," and to hold all bishops accountable for protecting young people, the pope said during an early morning Mass for six survivors of abuse by clergy.

The Mass and private meetings held later with each individual took place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae – the pope's residence.


In a lengthy homily in Spanish July 7, the pope thanked the three men and three women – two each from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany – for coming to the Vatican to meet with him.

The pope praised their courage for speaking out about their abuse, saying that telling the truth "was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church."

The scandal of abuse caused him "deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained."

Sex abuse is a "crime and grave sin," the pope said, one made even worse when carried out by clergy.

"This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors" violated the innocence of children and their own vocation to God, he said.


"It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God."

The pope begged for forgiveness "for the sins of omission on the part of the Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse." The neglect not only caused the victims more suffering, "it endangered other minors who were at risk."

The pope asked God "for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparations for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons" and left life-long scars.

He told the men and women sitting in the pews that God loved them and he prayed that "the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed."

In an effort to help the abuse survivors heal, the pope met individually with each one, accompanied by a loved one or family member and a translator, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told journalists.