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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 29 November, 2014

Pope Francis personally asks for forgiveness for child sex abuse by priests

He said he would not take one step back in regards to how abusers are dealt with and the sanctions that must be imposed.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis
Image: AP/Press Association Images

POPE FRANCIS PERSONALLY asked forgiveness for child sex abuse by priests – the first time he has made such an apology since being elected last year.

“I feel compelled… to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” the Pope said at a meeting with members of a children’s charity, Vatican Radio reported.

Francis said the number of guilty priests was “quite a few in number” but “obviously not compared to the number of all the priests”.

He added:

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,” he added.

Pope Francis was meeting with members of International Catholic Child Bureau, which works to protect the rights and dignity of children worldwide.

The Vatican has vowed a zero-tolerance approach and has begun implementing prevention and detection measures to root out abuse, although this varies widely between different countries.

Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI had also made a personal apology for the abuses.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Gun used in attempted assassination on Pope John Paul II goes on exhibit>

Read:  “Stop doing evil”: Pope Francis takes on the mafia>

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