In a remarkable meeting yesterday at the Vatican’s St. Martha Residence, Pope Francis met with victims of clergy sexual abuse from Ireland, Britain, and Germany. In a homily for daily Mass in the chapel of the residence, the Pope decried the abuse of children by clergy and others as “something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence,” Francis declared. “Today, the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left lifelong scars,” said the Pope, mentioning some of the wounds, such as drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, and problems in their relationships with family and with their husbands or wives.
The Pope said that the scandal of abuse in the Church “so much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained,” and he expressed his “sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” begging forgiveness for himself and the whole Church. The Holy Father praised the courage of the victims in coming forward, speaking up, and confronting their abusers, saying that in doing this, they performed “a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church.”
“There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” the Pope proclaimed, “all bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.” Francis asked for the abuse victims themselves to pray for him “so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people.”