Pope Francis vows church will never again cover up clergy sex abuse

Pope calls on sexual abusers to surrender

Pope calls on sexual abusers to surrender

Pope Francis has urged predator priests who have sexually abused minors to turn themselves in.

"To those who abuse minors I would say this - convert and hand yourself over to human justice and prepare for divine justice", CNN further quoted the Pope as saying.

"That must never happen again", he added.

According to the office of Lisa Madigan, the attorney general, the church's six archdioceses have done a woefully inadequate job of investigating allegations, while the dioceses has disclosed 45 more names of those credibly accused, the total number of names disclosed is only 185.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks abuse cases worldwide, said the pope's words on their own did nothing to protect children or deter abusers and the Church had to come up with real changes at the conference. "This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church".

As cardinals and other church luminaries listened in the Vatican's ornate Clementine Hall on Friday, Francis also compared priests who break their vows to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ.

The McCarrick revelations have fuelled a crisis in confidence in the USA and Vatican hierarchy amid allegations it was an open secret that he sexually abused seminarians but nevertheless was allowed to rise to power.

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In his Christmas message to the Roman Curia on Friday, the pope admitted that scandals within the church have caused some parishioners to begin to lose faith in the institution.

During Francis's disastrous trip to Chile in January, he dismissed survivors' allegations of coverup as "slander", sparking outrage in Chile and beyond.

"I myself would like to give heartfelt thanks to those media professionals who were honest and objective and sought to unmask these predators and to make their victims' voices heard", he said.

"It is true, we are all sinners, we bishops", the pope said in September, but the Great Accuser "seeks to unveil sins so that they may be seen, to scandalize the people".

In previous years, Francis has used his Christmas greetings to issue blistering criticisms of the failings of the Curia, accusing Vatican bureaucrats of suffering from "spiritual Alzheimer's" and taking part in the "terrorism of gossip".

A flood of accusations in both Chile and the USA, in particular, have shaken the church to its core, triggering a series of investigations, strong criticism of the Pope's handling of the crises, and prompting him to call for a meeting in February of church leaders to work through plans to prevent further abuses of power by predator priests.

"Often, behind their boundless amiability, impeccably activity and angelic faces, they shamelessly hide a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls", he said.

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