VATICAN CITY (AP) — Some off-the-cuff remarks today from Pope Francis are the latest sign that he has become sensitized to the gravity of the church's abuse scandal.
The pontiff said today that he took personal responsibility for what he described as the "evil" of priests who raped and molested children. Francis asked forgiveness from victims, and said the church must do more to protect the young.
He said, "We don't want to take a step back in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed."
It's the first time a pope has taken personal responsibility for the sex crimes of priests, and has begged forgiveness.
Last month, Francis named four women and an abuse survivor to a sex abuse advisory panel. The Vatican has suggested that the panel will address the issue of sanctioning bishops who cover up for pedophiles.
Francis delivered his comments today to members of a French Catholic network of organizations that protect the rights of children.
The main U.S. victim's group, SNAP, says it's waiting for more. The group's outreach director says, "Until the pope takes decisive action that protects kids, be skeptical and vigilant."
170-c-16-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"to this issue"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that victims' groups that have criticized Pope Francis for what they saw as a lack of attention to sexual abusers in the clergy might welcome these latest comments. (11 Apr 2014)
<<CUT *170 (04/11/14)££ 00:16 "to this issue"
168-c-09-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"to protect children"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports Pope Francis says he takes personal responsibility for the evil of priests who raped and molested children. (11 Apr 2014)
<<CUT *168 (04/11/14)££ 00:09 "to protect children"