In an unscheduled introduction to his address to U.S. Bishops Sunday morning, Pope Francis reflected on his meeting with the victims of clerical sexual abuse, promising “zealous vigilance” to protect minors and bring to justice those responsible for this crime.
In a somber tone, the Pope offered his reflections after hearing the testimonies of a group of persons who had been sexually abused as children.
“Etched into my heart are the stories, the suffering and the pain of the young people sexually abused by priests,” he said. “I am overwhelmed with shame thinking that those who in their charge the tender care of these little ones violated this trust, causing them grave harm.”
“God weeps,” he said emphatically.
“The crimes and sins of the abuse of minors cannot be held in silence any longer,” the Pope said.
“I commit myself to the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect minors,” he said “and I promise that all those responsible will be held to an accounting.”
“The survivors of sexual abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy. Humbly we owe each of them and their families our gratitude for their great courage in allowing the light of Christ to shine over the evil of the sexual abuse of minors,” he said.
The Pope also praised the efforts of the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, in assisting the victims of abuse, who accompanies them “with special affection.”
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