Francis rails against child sexual abuse, saying abusers must be ‘severely’ punished

Pope Francis Visits SardiniaPope Francis railed against the sexual abuse of children in a weekly address in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, calling any such abuse a “tragedy” and saying the church cannot tolerate the matter and “must severely punish the abusers.”

Greeting members of an Italian association that has worked to raise awareness against pedophilia and to report sexual abuse crimes, who were present in the Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, the pontiff thanked them for their work before departing from his prepared text.

“This is a tragedy,” said Francis off the cuff, his voice raised and his arm extended from the window of the Vatican’s apostolic palace above the Square. “We must not tolerate the abuse of minors. We must defend minors. And we must severely punish the abusers.”

The Catholic church around the world has been embroiled in scandals over its handling of sexually abusive clergy for decades, with survivors, advocates, law enforcement agencies, and some local jurisdictions saying members of the hierarchy covered up crimes in order to protect the institution at the risk of children’s well-being.  Source

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