Cyprus Mail

Pope meets victims of clergy sex abuse, says ‘God weeps’ for them

By Scott Malone and Philip Pullella

Pope Francis has met victims of clergy sex abuse and vowed to hold responsible all involved in abuse and cover-ups, he said in Philadelphia on Sunday, the last day of his first visit to the United States.

“God weeps for sexual abuse of children,” the 78-year-old pontiff told bishops at a seminary. He called for stronger “oversight to ensure that youth are protected and … all responsible will be held accountable.”

Reports that priests had sexually abused children and bishops had covered up their actions emerged in 2002, growing into a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

Victims’ groups say the church has not done enough. As many as 100,000 U.S. children may have been the victims of clerical sex abuse, insurance experts said in a paper presented at a Vatican conference in 2012.

Francis spoke to his bishops, before heading on to visit a group of inmates at a Pennsylvania prison and saying Mass for an expected crowd of 1.5 million people.

The first Latin American pope has focused his U.S. trip on immigration, urging Americans to lay aside any hostility to newcomers and addressing adoring crowds of Latino Catholics in his native Spanish.

Francis, who has emphasized humility and service over pomp and circumstance since being elected pope two years ago, will next travel to Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, where inmates made the hand-carved wooden chair he will use during the day’s closing Mass.

That open-air mass will take place under tight security. There is a heavy police presence around Philadelphia, with large stretches of downtown closed to vehicle traffic and pedestrians entering a 1.6 mile (2.6 km) corridor being subject to search.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church has met crowds at each step of his six-day visit, which included the first-ever papal address to Congress and a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, before his arrival in Philadelphia on Saturday.

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