I beg your forgiveness, Pope tells church's sex abuse victims

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Pope Francis told victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clerics the Church should “weep and make reparation” for crimes he said had taken on the dimensions of a sacrilegious cult.

“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.

He said he would not tolerate abuse, which has been exposed in recent years in many European, American and Asian dioceses.

The pope told the victims he realised that they and others had suffered “often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair” and that some had turned to drugs or even taken their own lives.

Bishops would be held accountable if they shielded the abusers, he said.

Pope met six victims 

Francis delivered his homily to six victims of abuse, two each from Ireland, Britain and Germany, before meeting all individually at a gathering closed to the media that lasted nearly four hours, spending about 30 minutes with each one.

“I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons,” he said, according to a Vatican transcript.

“Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness,” he said.

One victim, Marie Kane, 43, of Ireland, told the Irish Times that the meeting was "pretty amazing" and she told the pope that “cover-up is still happening and you have the power to make these changes”.

One US victim's group called on the pope to “follow through on his promise today to discipline the many more bishops and religious superiors who even recently have enabled child sexual abuse through their negligence or deliberate cover-up”.

The Vatican says 3,420 credible accusations of sexual abuse by priests had been referred to the Vatican in the past 10 years and 824 clerics defrocked. The Church in the US has paid $2.5 billion(S$3.12 million)  in compensation to victims.

Source: Reuters