Pope Francis Urges ‘Zero Tolerance’ for ‘Diabolical’ Sex Abuse


ROME — Pope Francis called for zero tolerance of the sexual abuse of children, telling Portuguese television that such crimes are “diabolical.”

In an interview broadcast Monday on Portugal’s TVI/CNN network, the pontiff condemned abuse in the strongest terms, while denying any connection to the Church’s celibacy rule for priests.

Even if there were only one case of abuse in the Church it would be “monstrous,” the pope told host Maria João Avillez, “because priests and nuns are called to bring boys and girls to God while abuse destroys their lives.”

“A priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser,” Francis declared. “He cannot because he is either sick or a criminal.”

“A priest exists to guide people to God and not to destroy people in the name of God,” he said. “Zero tolerance. And it must stay like this.”

At the same time, the pope insisted that the phenomenon of abuse has nothing to do with the Church’s celibacy rule.

“Then they come to you with questions, could it be that celibacy…? Nothing to do with celibacy,” he said, noting that abuse also happens in families where there is no celibacy.

“Abuse is a destructive thing, humanly diabolical, because in families there is no celibacy and it also happens,” he said. “It is a monstrosity for a man or a woman of the Church, who is sick in psychological terms or is evil, to use that position for his personal satisfaction. It’s diabolical.”

The pope also referred to his possible attendance at next year’s World Youth Day, scheduled for August 2023 in Portugal.

“Whether it’s Francis or John XXIV, the pope will be there,” he joked.


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