POPE FRANCIS MEETS WITH VICTIMS OF SEX ABUSE
Pope Francis held a private meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse in Philadelphia on Sunday (27th September) and told bishops afterwards that such crimes “must no longer be held in secret” and promised on behalf of the Church “the accountability of all.” He met with three women and two men who had been sexually abused as children. The Pope said he remained “overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm. I am profoundly sorry. God weeps.” He thanked the bishops for all they have down to “shine the light of Christ” on the “evil” of the sexual abuse of children. The Pope’s remarks came during an address with bishops attending the World Meeting of Families on the final day of his pastoral visit to the U.S. (photo: news.va – afp)
The half hour meeting – between 8 and 9 am Sunday – took place at the St Charles Borromeo seminary in Philadelphia on the last day of the Pope’s visit to the United States. The abuse survivors were accompanied by the Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as well as the Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and by Bishop Fitzgerald who heads the local diocesan office for child protection.
In a statement the head of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said the Pope spoke with each survivor, listening to their stories and praying together with them. Fr. Lombardi said the Holy Father expressed his “participation in their suffering” as well as his pain and sense of shame for those who had been abused by members of the clergy. The statement said some of the five victims had also been abused by their teachers or members of their own families. Pope Francis renewed his personal commitment, and that of the whole Church, to ensure that survivors are “listened to and treated with justice”, that those responsible are punished, and that such crimes are effectively combatted and prevented in the Church and in society. He also thanked the survivors for their “essential contribution” in establishing the truth and embarking on a “path of healing.” (Vatican Radio)