In a landmark move, Pope Francis met six victims of sexual abuse hailing from Ireland, Germany and Britain and begged forgiveness on behalf of the Church, earlier today. According to The Telegraph, the victims who had suffered at the hands of Roman Catholic priests had been invited to attend an early-morning private Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the residence next to St. Peter’s Basilica where Pope Francis lives.
After the meeting, Pope Francis termed the abuse a “grave sin” and also accepted the fact that it should not have remain hidden for such a long time. He also added that the Church should have been more forthcoming in accepting that the problem existed.
The Pope said;
“I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. 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. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God.
The Pontiff also added,
“Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God”.
Pope Francis also in strong terms criticized the priests’ action and termed them “more than despicable”.
Pope Francis also appreciated the courage of the victims who showed the will to speak up for themselves and helped shed light on what he termed, “a terrible darkness.” The pope also addressed the mass and said that he deeply understands the “deep and unrelenting pain” that the victims had gone through.
In his talk against clerical sexual abuse against minors, Pope Francis asserted that acts like these have a “toxic effect on faith and hope in God”. Glad at the fact that the victims chose to open up and showed the willingness to come to the Vatican, he said that there is still the miracle of hope that prevails against deepest darkness. The victims of abuse spent half an hour each with Pope Francis in their first meeting with the Pope inside the Vatican, reports NBC News.
Meanwhile, people have also criticized Pope Francis for delaying the meeting with the abuse victims and opined that the meeting came simply too late – a good 16 months after his elevation as the pontiff.
According to Mary Caplan, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the meeting of the victims with Pope Francis simply isn’t enough. In a statement she adds;
“Over the past 2000 years, two popes have met with about two dozen clergy sex abuse victims. Very little has changed. A dozen popes could meet with 100 victims, and very little will change. These meetings are public relations coups for the Vatican and a distracting placebo for others.”
Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi however rubbished all criticism and said that most critics do not understand Pope Francis’ positive intentions.
Do you think Pope Francis should have made this gesture much earlier?
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]