Pope to sex abuse victims: I beg your forgiveness

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Pope to sex abuse victims: I beg your forgiveness
Wedding couples sit inside St. Peter's Basilica as they are married by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Alessandra Pucci smiles to Francesco Allotta after being married by Pope Francis, during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, left beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis leaves after a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, center beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Sara Pisano, left, and Danilo Spagnoli, just married by Pope Francis, attend a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Daniele Landi, left, kisses Chiara Calabrese after being married by Pope Francis, during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Sara Pisano, left, and Danilo Spagnoli, just married by Pope Francis, smile during the wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is framed by a balcony as he weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis, top center beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Newly married couples attend a wedding ceremony led by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis prays during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, left, celebrates a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Guido Tassara, left, and Gabriella Improta, just married by Pope Francis, exchange rings during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives to at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 15: Pope Francis is seen walking through Santa Maria in Trastevere Square on a screen as he arrives at the St. Egidio Community on June 15, 2014 in Rome, Italy. Pope Francis visited the Community of Sant'Egidio at a meeting dedicated essentially to the poor, who are 'at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus' and constitute a fundamental commitment of the Community as friendship as service. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 15: Pope Francis walks through Santa Maria in Trastevere Square meeting the faithful as he arrives at the St. Egidio Community on June 15, 2014 in Rome, Italy. Pope Francis visited the Community of Sant'Egidio at a meeting dedicated to the poor. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis flanked by Cardinal Agostino Vallini attends the opening of Rome's Diocese Conference at the Vatican, Monday, June16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis flanked by Cardinal Agostino Vallini delivers his message on the occasion of the opening of Rome's Diocese Conference at the Vatican, Monday, June16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis greets Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson during his meeting with the participants in the Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace titled "Investing for the Poor" at the Vatican, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis begged forgiveness Monday from the victims of clergy sex abuse as he held his first meeting with several abuse survivors - but another victim called the gathering nothing more than "a PR event."

The Vatican quoted Francis as expressing personal "sorrow" in his homily at a private Mass with six victims for the "sins and grave crimes" of clerical sex abuse against them.

Francis pledged "not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not," and promised that bishops "will be held accountable."

"I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves," the pope said.

"This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk," the pope said, according to the English translation of his homily, which was delivered in Spanish.

Francis noted the abuse caused some victims to resort to addictions, or even suicide.

"These deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole church," he said.

Advocacy groups for clerical abuse survivors have denounced the Vatican repeatedly for failing to fire or otherwise discipline bishops and other prelates who routinely shuffled known pedophile priests from parish to parish without alerting parishioners to the danger.

Other abuse survivors not at the meeting said the encounter would likely do nothing about their complaints the Vatican has failed to punish bishops and other prelates who systemically covered up the abuse of minors.

A German survivor advocacy spokesman, Norbert Denef, called Monday's meeting "nothing more than a PR event."

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said two Irish, two British and two German victims met with the pope. The three men and three women who had been sexually abused as youths by clergy met privately for about a half-hour each with Francis at his Vatican residence.

"Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness," Francis said in his homily.

None of the victims wanted to speak with reporters, Lombardi said. Francis had already greeted the group Sunday evening while the six were dining at the hotel. The six were allowed to have a relative or other person accompany them, as well as someone to translate in the private conversation with the pope.

Pope Benedict met several times with abuse victims, starting in 2008. Francis, on his trip back from the Middle East in May, promised he would meet with victims this summer.

One Irish survivor of sex abuse by clergy, Marie Collins, has already spent time at the Vatican this year because she serves on a panel set up by Francis to help him deal with the scandals staining the church's reputation in many countries. She would likely have had opportunities to meet with the pontiff.

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