Pope expresses ‘shame’ at scale of clergy abuse in France

International

Pope Francis listens to speeches during his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis expressed “shame” for himself and the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday for the scale of child sexual abuse within the church in France and acknowledged failures in putting the needs of victims first.

The pope spoke during his regular audience at the Vatican about a report released Tuesday that estimated some 330,000 French childrenwere abused by clergy and other church authority figures dating back to 1950.

“There is, unfortunately, a considerable number. I would like to express to the victims my sadness and pain for the trauma that they suffered,’’ Francis said. “It is also my shame, our shame, my shame, for the incapacity of the church for too long to put them at the center of its concerns.”

He called on all bishops and religious superiors to take all actions necessary “so similar dramas are not repeated.”

The pope also expressed his “closeness and paternal support” to French priests in the face of a “difficult test,’’ and called on French Catholics to “ensure that the church remains a safe house for all.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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