Pope Francis has addressed a letter to 1.2 billion Roman Catholics condemning the child sex abuse in the Church and the cover ups by the Church.
The 2,000 word letter is addressed to “the people of God” and deals with failures of the Church in relation to child sex abuse. The Pope calls for an end to the “culture of death” in the Church and asks for forgiveness.
A landmark investigation in the United States has uncovered seven decades of abuse in Pennsylvania. The investigation has found that more than 1,000 children had been abused by 300 priests in the United States. There are thought to be thousands more victims that have not come forward. The inquiry found that there had been cover ups in the Church.
The Pope wrote the public letter after the report by the investigation was made public. The Vatican said the Pope was on the side of the victims. This is the first time a Pope has addressed the issue of child sex abuse publicly and asked the Church to face the reality of the situation.
He describes the “heart-wrenching pain of these victims that were long ignored, kept quiet or silenced“.
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones, we abandoned them.”
The Pope requested solidarity in the Church in order to be able to get past the situation.
Many charities have come forward and said that the Pope’s letter is “too little too late and nothing will change.”
Anne Barrett-Doyle, co-director of clerical abuse tracking website BishopAccountability.org, said “there needed to be more actions, less words” from the Pope. “He needs an effective discipline process for bishops and religious superiors who are known to have enabled abuse.”
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