Pope Francis on Sunday met with five victims of clerical sex abuse in Philadelphia on the final day of his US visit and vowed to hold those responsible for such offences accountable.
Francis told bishops that "great harm" was caused by assaults and “people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust.”
“God weeps for the sexual abuse of children" he added.
The Pope spoke to bishops on Sunday morning at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, hours before he is scheduled to celebrate an outdoor Mass which is expected to draw an exceptionally large crowed.
According to the Vatican, three of the victims who met with the pope were women while the other two were men.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the Pope “renewed the Church's commitment to listen to victims and treat them with justice, to punish the guilty and that crimes of abuse would be fought with an effective program of prevention in the Church and in society."
Allegations of sexual abuse dates back to decades, but reported cases of abuse and cover-ups led the way for a crisis in 2002.
More than 100,000 children in the US are suspected to be victims of clerical sex abuse, wrote experts in a paper presented at a Vatican conference in 2012.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) have not been pleased with the Pope's efforts to deal with clerical sex abuse and state that more could be done.
The next stop for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church was Philadelphia’s largest prison - the Curran - Fromhold Correctional Facility.
The Pope reassured young prisoners and corrections officers that they are not alone and that he is there to listen.
"I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own," the Pope said.
He also called for believers to support inmates during their time of "rehabilitation" and reminded them that everyone has flaws.
"All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others," he said.
Meanwhile, President Obama announced he will hold his first formal meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro on Tuesday in New York.
Obama to meet Tuesday with Cuban President Raul Castro on sidelines of UNGA, per White House
— Julie Pace (@jpaceDC) September 27, 2015