Pope Francis asked for forgiveness Friday over the sex abuse in the clergy and said he assumes personal responsibility for the “evil” some priests have caused.
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying on Vatican Radio.
Straying from his prepared remarks, Francis called the abuse “moral damage carried out by men of the Church.” He pledged to address the issue with sanctions.
“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 said.
Allegations of child molestation have long plagued the Catholic Church. A UN panel in February condemned the Vatican’s handling of sex-abuse cases involving the clergy and called on the church turn over its archives to criminal investigators to examine past sexual allegations against clerics.
In an interview with an Italian newspaper last month, the Pope deflected criticism of the Roman Catholic Church’s record on the issue and said “no-one else has done more” to end the abuse. The Pope also formed a church group last year, led by a former child victim to address clerical pedophila.