Pope Francis spoke out against sexual abuse by Catholic clergy Monday, calling for “zero tolerance” and saying he plans to meet with victims in early June, CNN reports.
The Pope’s remarks follow an ongoing sexual abuse case against Catholic clergy. Stressing that such abuse is a horrific crime, he told reporters aboard the papal plane that three bishops were under investigation. According to CNN, it was not clear whether the bishops are under investigation for alleged abuse or for involvement in a cover up.
In April, an audit from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops noted that the Catholic Church spent about $3 billion for allegations of sexual abuse. The audit is part of an effort in the Church to increase transparency about sexual abuse.
Pope Francis recently asked forgiveness “for the damage” that abusive priests have inflicted on children and pledged that the Catholic Church “will not take one step backward” in efforts to address the crisis.
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests — quite a few in number, though not compared to the total number — and to ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done by sexually abusing children,” Francis said.
His comments follow criticism he has received for not addressing the clerical abuse crisis as quickly and aggressively as he has other issues, and many advocates were frustrated that Francis had not yet met with any victims.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, remain skeptical of Francis’ actions. "No child rape will be prevented, no abuse cover-up will be prevented and no predator priest will be exposed by anything the pope said today or will do next month, Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP, said in a statement. "His upcoming and self-serving meeting with victims is more of what we've seen for decades -- more gestures, promises, symbolism and public relations."
The upcoming meeting at the Vatican will not be the first time a pope has met with sexual abuse victims, according to John L. Allen Jr., CNN's senior Vatican analyst. However, it will mark the first time Pope Francis has done so.
"This is a clear indication that Francis is trying to get the message out that he 'gets it' about the need to confront the church's abuse scandals," Allen said.
Publication Date: May 27, 2014.