Pope Francis has acknowledged the Catholic Church was “a bit late” in realising the damage done by priests who rape and molest children, and said that the decades-long practice of moving paedophiles around, rather than sanctioning them was to blame.
On Thursday Francis met for the first time with his sex abuse advisory commission, a group of outside experts named in 2014 to advise him and the Catholic Church on the best practices to keep paedophiles out of the priesthood and protect children.
In his prepared remarks, Francis promised to respond with the “firmest measures possible” against sex abusers.
He said bishops and religious superiors bore “primary responsibility” for keeping their flocks safe from abusive priests and would be held accountable if they are negligent.
But Francis also spoke off-the-cuff, admitting that the church’s response to the scandal was slow.
Indeed, the Vatican for decades turned a blind eye to the problem and local bishops, rather than defrocking abusers.
Part of the problem was that under the papacy of St. John Paul II, the Vatican was reluctant to defrock young priests, even if they were abusers.
“The consciousness of the church arrived a bit late, and when the consciousness arrives late, the means to resolve the problem arrive late,” Francis said.
“Perhaps the old practice of moving people around, and not confronting the problem, kept consciences asleep.”
–Top Twitter To Follow: