Pope asks bishops in US to never repeat sexual abuse

Pope Francis in week long visit to US talks to bishops, saying that crimes of sexual abuse of children shall never be repeated

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Pope Francis speaks to bishops during the midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthews in Washington September 23, 2015

Pope Francis gave a speech to Roman Catholic bishops in Saint Matthew's Cathedral in Washington and asked the crimes of sexual abuse to never be repeated, referring it as “the difficult moments”.

"I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims - in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed - and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated," he told the bishops who applauded afterwards.

David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) - who was sexually assaulted by a priest when he was a child - commented on the Pope’s speech, saying he is not even “honest about what this crisis is, these are not quote-unquote 'difficult moments,' this is a centuries-old, incredibly unhealthy and self-surviving pattern of secrecy and recklessness."

He added that the “belated steps they have taken have been forced on them by the most courageous people in this crisis, abuse victims and their families."

Victims coming together in online groups and NGOs they found have been fighting against the abusing bishops and the church which fail the crimes.

Legal costs and rehabilitation for offenders totaling around $3 billion has forced the US church to sell off assets and cut costs since the 2000s.

There are 17,000 people complained the US church of abuse. Experts speaking at the Vatican said in 2012 that the number of abused American minors is probably close to 100,000.

The Pope had vowed to root out "the scourge" of sexual abuse from the Roman Catholic Church on February this year, and he created a Vatican tribunal for the judgement of the accused clergy on June.

During his visit, it is expected the Pope to meet victims of abuse privately. The church will declare it after the meetings to protect the privacy of the victims.

In his speech, Francis also touched upon controversial topics including abortion, climate change, migrants, terrorism and wars, and concluded his speech that it is wrong for humans, who are “noble stewards but not masters,” to “look the other way or to remain silent."

The pontiff started his six day long visit to the US and was welcomed by Barack Obama at the airport on Tuesday .


TRTWorld and agencies