On July 7, 2014, the Dallas Morning News reprinted an Associated Press article reporting that Pope Francis asked victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests to forgive the Church for not preventing these actions and for the length of time the Church took to acknowledge the incidents.
At a private mass with six victims of abuse, the pontiff expressed his “personal sorrow” for the “sin and grave crimes” so many young people suffered due to the actions of Catholic clergy who engaged in sexual abusive behavior.
In his homily, Pope Francis said that the Church was “not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not” and that [bishops] “will be held accountable.” He continued, “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.”
Francis also addressed the fact that some victims of clerical sexual abuse went on to take their own lives in the aftermath of their experiences: “[These crimes] led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk…These deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole church…Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.”