Pope Francis has urged priests who sexually abuse children to turn themselves in and “prepare for divine justice” in his first direct appeal to the pedophile predators.
In his Christmas address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration, on Friday, the pontiff focused on the international sexual abuse crisis that is overwhelming the Roman Catholic Church.
He also vowed that the Catholic Church would never again ignore allegations of child sexual abuse.
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RT reports: It was unclear if the Pope was telling the child abusers to turn themselves in to official authorities, the Church judicial system or both. He also pledged to “never again” ignore allegations of abuse: “The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.”
“To those who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” Francis said in his Christmas address to the Curia.
As recently as Wednesday a US auxiliary bishop resigned over his “misconduct” with a minor. The pontiff denounced clerics “who abuse the vulnerable, taking advantage of their position and their power of persuasion.”
“They perform abominable acts yet continue to exercise their ministry as if nothing had happened. They have no fear of God or his judgment, but only of being found out and unmasked.”
Pope Francis made the comments two months before a summit on the sexual abuse crisis in the Vatican, which will be attended by the heads of more than 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders.