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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 28 November, 2014

Pope Francis asks for forgiveness after first meeting with abuse survivors

After meeting two Irish survivors, the Pontiff condemned “execrable acts of abuse.”

Pope Francis at mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
Pope Francis at mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
Image: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

POPE FRANCIS HAS asked for forgiveness from survivors of clerical sex abuse who met with him today in the Vatican for the first time.

In a homily delivered after meeting privately with six survivors – including two from Ireland – Pope Francis condemned the “execrable acts of abuse” committed by Catholic clergy.

“Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness,” he said during a mass attended by abuse survivors, according to an official Vatican transcript.

Addressing what he called the “life long scars” of abuse, the Pontiff acknowledged the despair, addiction, difficult relationships, and suicide brought on by the “more than despicable actions” of abusers.

He thanked the survivors for speaking up and shedding light on “a terrible darkness in the life of the Church,” before condemning those culpable for the abuse, as well as those who “did not respond adequately to reports of abuse”.

Some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation…They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created…All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

The mass came after Pope Francis had earlier hosted, for the first time, an official meeting with six survivors of clerical sex abuse – two Irish, two British and two German.

Marie Kane, from Bray, Co. Wicklow was joined by an Irish man – another abuse survivor – as well as Marie Collins, herself an abuse survivor and campaigner with One In Four, who was recently appointed to the Vatican’s commission for the protection of minors.

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’ Malley was also present at the meeting in the Pope’s private guesthouse.

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