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Pope assumes responsibility for priest sex abuse

Pope Asks For Forgiveness For Sex Abuse By Priests


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis said Friday he took personal responsibility for the "evil" of priests who raped and molested children, asking forgiveness from victims and saying the church must be even bolder in its efforts to protect the young. It was the first time a pope has taken personal responsibility for the sex crimes of his priests and begged forgiveness.

Francis made the off-the-cuff remarks after coming under criticism from victims' advocacy groups for a perceived lack of attention to the sexual abuse scandal and ongoing demands that he sanction bishops who covered up for pedophiles.

He delivered the comments to members of the International Catholic Child Bureau, a French Catholic network of organizations that protects children's rights. Sitting with them in his library Friday, Francis spoke slowly and softly in his native Spanish, deviating from his text.

"I feel compelled to take personal responsibility for all the evil that some priests, many - many in number, (although) not in comparison with the totality - to assume personal responsibility and to ask forgiveness for the damage caused by the sexual abuse of the children," he said.

"The church is aware of this damage," he continued. "We don't want to take a step back in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I think we must be even stronger! You don't play around with the lives of children."

No pope has ever taken personal responsibility for the tens of thousands of children who were molested by priests over decades as bishops moved them from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police. Pope John Paul II denounced priests who hurt children, saying there was no place for them in the priesthood. Pope Benedict XVI expressed sorrow and regret to victims, met with them and even wept with them. But neither ever took personal responsibility for the scandal or begged forgiveness as Francis did.

Last month, Francis named the initial members of a commission to advise him on best practices to combat sexual abuse in the church. Half of them are women and one, Marie Collins, was assaulted by a priest as a child. Collins, who became a well-known activist in the fight for victims' justice, had previously called on Benedict to ask personal forgiveness for the scandal and those church leaders who put loyalty to the church ahead of the safety of children.

The Vatican has said Collins and the other members will draft the statutes of the commission and would look into the legal "duties and responsibilities" of church personnel, a suggestion that they might take up the critical question of disciplining complicit bishops. Church law provides for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but to date no bishop has been disciplined for protecting an abuser.

Though unclear, Francis' comments about the "sanctions that must be imposed" could similarly be a reference to the need to make bishops accountable.

Francis named the commission members after coming under fire for taking no action since the commission itself was announced in December. Victims groups also have been irked that he hasn't met with survivors and recently told a newspaper that the church had been unfairly attacked for its abuse record.

Francis comments during the closed audience were only reported in part by Vatican Radio, and Vatican Television excluded them entirely in its initial edit of the audience. The full quote was obtained after The Associated Press requested video of the full comments from Vatican Television.


Mayra Pertossi in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

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stevenhaft April 12 2014 at 12:42 PM

Pay attention. You can have your Marvel Heroes and Movie Stars -- this is what a real hero looks like......

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1 reply
d1anaw stevenhaft April 12 2014 at 12:56 PM

Not hardly. He still supports the subservience of women, he still sees nothing wrong with a history filled with murder and violence and still sees nothing wrong with teaching and supporting bigotry and hatred.

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1 reply
estela92 d1anaw April 12 2014 at 1:15 PM


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brucesjt8d April 11 2014 at 1:18 PM

Oh, but on the matter of homosexuals in the Church, did Pope Francis not previously remark- "Who am I to judge" ... Well, let me see, your eminence ... Uh, the "Vicar of Christ on Earth"? Even so, you are to judge a man's actions, behaviors - which is not to say that you are judging his soul, as only God can do that. Otherwise, to what purpose is the Law?

How to solve the problem of "priests" sexually abusing children? First off, let's face the fact that these reprobates are "priests" in title only - they never held any other intention save to destroy the Church from within - as that was the mission they were sent to do!

So, to rightly address the problem, we must start by ridding the Church seminaries - and the Vatican itself - of the "homosexual mafia" that has invaded the Church, and now has a tight grip on its hierarchal functions. The fact of homosexual infiltration was first confirmed by former communist Bella Dodd, who gave her testimony that this cabal invading the Catholic Church was planned and carried out by the Communists, in league with Free Masons.

It would help too, that we call these evil infiltrators by the titles they rightly deserve: sodomites, pederasts (those who have an affinity towards pre-pubescent boys) and pedophiles (those who have an affinity towards pre-pubescent girls). Stop defending the vile practice of homosexuals, and then perhaps we will finally begin to rout their wicked plague from society.

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2 replies
hellyon3too brucesjt8d April 11 2014 at 1:26 PM

I have two words for you; STOP HATING.

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erin brucesjt8d April 11 2014 at 1:32 PM

Except that homosexuality is not the same thing as pedophilia or pederastia.

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ltpar April 11 2014 at 2:12 PM

I am not a Catholic, but recognize Pope Francis as a true leader. Leaders step to the front and take responsibility for the shortcomings of their organizations. I strongly suspect that Pope Francis will be initiating more actions to clean up the internal mess in the Catholic Church. May God give him wisdom and strength.

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1 reply
justrose49 ltpar April 11 2014 at 2:57 PM

I do agree with you. We do have a man who truly loves all people. I believe it is important for us to pray for this humble man..

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1 reply
smoses80 justrose49 April 11 2014 at 3:48 PM

Do you Pray for All the Children who were sexually abused by these Priests?? I doubt it. Once you are sexually molested your life is Never the same and It Never will be. That Church has hurt Thousands(if not more) of lives including the Families of those who were Molested!!!!!

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elnpet April 12 2014 at 3:31 AM

every priest and Bishop who covered up for this abuse to children should be defrocked and jailed. No questions asked. Just take them out of society. No child deserves this.

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1 reply
AOL ONLY on scr elnpet April 12 2014 at 7:39 AM

Agree wholeheartedly.

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bandicoot5 April 12 2014 at 4:30 AM

I am not a Catholic, but I LOVE Pope Francis! He is so "right" for the church. He is a good and kind leader.

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1 reply
AOL ONLY on scr bandicoot5 April 12 2014 at 7:38 AM

I smiled when I read your post. I also smiled when Pope Francis was selected for pope. He is the personification of my Catholic beliefs.

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greypines April 12 2014 at 11:18 AM

A wonderful step in the right direction.

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brave1b3 April 11 2014 at 2:05 PM

Publish the names of ALL the offenders,arrest them,prosecute them and then punish them and I will be impressed,well not really impressed..its the LEAST they could do!

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fkfrakes8 April 11 2014 at 2:05 PM

So what's the bottom line here ? He's taking the heat for all the bishops that covered up for the pedophile pukes that committed these atrocities on young boys ? So what does he do with the bishops who, in my opinion, should be held just as accountable and allowed these pedophiles to continue. Obviously I'm not catholic. I hope there will be more to it than there has been in the past. Put the pedophiles in jail - priest or not - it's where ALL pedophiles belong.

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4 replies
poll100 April 12 2014 at 11:10 AM

Allowing priests to marry will control nothing of their sexual urges. They like boys not girls. To marry of the guise of being a married priest is ruining some woman's life who deserves more than hidden agenda of being a fake wife.

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1 reply
kelthe poll100 April 12 2014 at 11:27 AM

"they like boys not girls"??? What rot. Who are you and what world do you inhabit anyway?

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David April 11 2014 at 2:04 PM

Reading the comments here about what Pope Francis 'should' be doing leads me to believe there are a lot of folks here with inside knowledge of how to be pope. Amazing.

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3 replies
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