Pope Francis apologizes to sex abuse victims
Pope Francis apologized to the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by ordained members of the Catholic Church over the years.
The sexual abuse scandal has been a common theme in the news cycle for the better part of a decade due to recurring allegations of abuse and the Church's failure to properly address claims of misconduct. These failures have in turn spawned massive lawsuits brought by abuse victims and their families against the faith.
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The organization Bishop Accountability puts the total value of payments made by the Catholic church as a result of such lawsuits in the United States at $3 billion. Reuters notes that the single largest payment amounted to $660 million and was paid by the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 2007.
The remarks in question were made as the pope addressed a group called the International Catholic Child Bureau, saying:
"I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children."
This is the strongest statement on the matter yet from Pope Francis, who last month defended the Church in response to a U.N. report that criticized the faith's handling of the sexual abuse cases.