Pope Francis Calls Church Sexual Abuse Victims "Heralds Of Mercy"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
On the last day of his visit to the United States, Pope Francis made a poignant pledge to the victims of child abuse by clergy and educators within the Church.

"I'm overwhelmed by shame that the people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust and caused them great pain," he told those assembled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on Sunday. According to CNN, he made the remarks after meeting with three women and two men who had been sexually abused as children. "God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret; and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable."

The seminary itself was at the center of a recent scandal. It was discovered that for years, its leaders had failed to stop priests from molesting and raping students. In 2012, a priest in charge of personnel was convicted of child endangerment, CNN reports.

"Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy," the Pope said during this, his second meeting with victims of abuse since becoming pope last year. "Humbly, we owe each of them our gratitude for their great value, as they have had to suffer terrible abuse, sexual abuse of minors."

But Pope Francis' words mean little to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "Is a child anywhere on Earth safer now that a pope, for maybe the seventh or eighth time or ninth time, has briefly chatted with abuse victims? No," David Clohessy, the group's director, told the New York Times.

Beyond moving speeches and meetings, the Vatican created a tribunal in June to judge bishops accused of covering up or failing to take action in abuse scandals, but it has not yet taken effect.
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