Pope Francis Wednesday said he was ashamed by the Catholic Church’s inability to deal with sexual abuse of children in France.
The Church, he said, must make itself a “safe home for everyone”, reported news agency Reuters.
“I would like to express to the victims my sadness, sorrow for the trauma they have suffered and also my shame, our shame, for the church’s inability, for too long, to put them at the centre of its concerns,” Francis said at his weekly general audience, the report said.
Speaking a day after a major investigation revealed that French clergy had abused more than 300,000 children over 70 years, the pontiff invited Catholics in France to take responsibility for what had happened in order to make the Church a “safe home for everyone”.
“This is the moment of shame,” he said, calling on bishops to make every efforts to ensure that “similar tragedies do not happen again”.
Jean-Marc Sauve, head of the commission that compiled the report, said the Church had shown indifference towards the abuses for years, preferring to protect itself rather than the victims, many of them aged between 10 and 13.
The height of the abuse was 1950-1970, the commission said in its report, with an apparent resurgence in cases in the early 1990s.The pontiff added that he was close to French priests dealing with a “hard, yet healthy” challenge.
The Pope had already expressed his gratitude to victims for the courage they had in coming forward and denouncing what they had been through.