Pope Francis has sent out a public letter addressing Catholics worldwide that condemns the sexual abuse committed by priests and demands accountability.
The three-page letter, issued by the Vatican on Monday is in response to new information revealing decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States.
In the letter, Pope Francis begs the victims for their forgiveness and said that all Catholics must work together to root out and expose sexual abuse.
He then took aim at the self-referential culture within the church that is seen as a major culprit in the scandal, saying that priests had been more worried about their own reputation than protecting children.
He said that “with shame and repentance” the church acknowledged that “we were not where we should have been” and that “we did not act in a timely manner” in responding to “the magnitude and the gravity” of the suffering caused.
He went on to say that the church “showed no care for the little ones”.
The letter was circulated just ahead of Pope Francis’ Ireland trip, an awkward visit considering Ireland is one of the nations that was rife with Catholic sex abuse. The issue was expected to be topical during the Ireland trip, but recent revelations in the US have brought the issue even more to the forefront.
The letter, which was sent out in seven different languages and addressed the “People of God”, referenced the recent American findings and vowed that such crimes would “never again” occur.
He also said that “no effort must be spared” in creating a culture that can “prevent such situations from happening” and also to prevent their cover up and perpetuation.
However, the Pope didn’t indicate that there were any plans to punish or prosecute members of the clergy that covered up for paedophile priests.