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Pope Francis meets with sex abuse victims

Pope Francis meets with sex abuse victims

“The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret," the Pope said.

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In a private meeting on Sunday morning at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis met with victims of sexual abuse. The Pontiff told the group he felt pain and shame in particular in the case of injury caused by clergy or church workers.

The Pope received five adults —three women and two men — who experienced sexual abuse as a minor by either the clergy, family members or teachers. He greeted them individually, prayed with them and pledged that “every one responsible will be held accountable.”

“For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed,” the Pope told the victims, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret. I pledge the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all,” the Pope said.

Earlier in the week abuse victims criticized the Pope for praising American bishops for their handling of the sexual abuse scandal, "focusing on the pain that had been inflicted on the bishops," and leaving abuse infuriated, asking why he neglected to even acknowledge their anguish, The New York Times reported.

The meeting took place before the Holy Father addressed seminarians and bishops at St. Martin's Chapel. Speaking off script and in Spanish, as he has for the most part of his visit through Philadelphia, the Pope told the audience he had just met with the victims.

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“I hold the stories and the suffering … of children who were sexually abused by priests deep in my heart,” the Pope said. ”I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm. I am profoundly sorry. God weeps.”

Pope Francis had met with sexual abuse victims in the Vatican in 2014, and offered a homily during a private Mass with six victims of Church sexual abuse.

On Saturday, Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley told AL DÍA that the biggest challenge for the Church is to heal the wounds caused by the sexual abuses committed by the clergy. “The Holy Father has made many efforts. He created a commission and has established very clear protocols,” he said. “Especially to prevent, so we don’t repeat the past mistakes”.

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