Pope Francis lays out 'concrete measures' to stop Catholic sex abuse

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick archbishop

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick archbishop

Because, he said, "everyone knows that sexual abuse leaves tremendous consequences for everyone...the consequences are evident, in all aspects, and remain for the whole of life".

A survivor from Chile told the churchmen they had inflicted even more pain on victims by discrediting them and protecting the priests who abused them.

Earlier this month, an 88-year-old former cardinal was defrocked in the U.S. over claims of abuse, the most senior Catholic figure to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.

But he said he would not budge on his view of upholding church secrecy rules for confession, meaning priests do not have to report priests who disclose abuse in confession.

He said he is aware that the Church is discussing how to "end this phenomenon, how to prevent it from happening again and again, and how to remedy all of this evil".

He also drew from the work from social scientist and psychologist Robert Enright, in arguing that after justice for abuse victims, the Church must work towards healing and bringing about forgiveness between victim and perpetrator. "Victims need to be believed, respected cared for and healed".

The almost 200 bishops, cardinals and heads of religious orders attending the conference were addressed by victims of predatory priests, with one telling them bluntly: "You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed into murderers of the soul".

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His final plea was to those who are impeding the restoration of trust in the Church.

At a summit to discuss the scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church, he said "the cry of the little ones seeking justice" had to be heard. "We have to recognize that the enemy is within", he said.

Last year, in Chile, Francis publicly dismissed accusations that bishop Juan Barros witnessed sexual abuse of minors by a priest as calumny. In one explosive case, Francis was accused by an archbishop of ignoring the past sexual misconduct of the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick.

The survivor said she fell pregnant three times but the priest forced her to have multiple abortions.

"He said "come and sit with me on the chair and we will read together".

Her message to the Bishops is one of love.

Speaking to the BBC, Brigitte, who had been abused by a chaplain, said she was initially afraid to tell people about her story because she was told she would "never become an angel in heaven". It is a timely summit and one that hits home for the people of the province. In it, the two church leaders blame "hedonistic" gay people for the rampant abuse of children while excusing the priests who are actually molesting kids. It is to these Bishops, said the survivor from the United States, that survivors look to for "leadership, and vision, and courage". However, despite his concerted efforts to reach his Bishop, 8 years later, his letter still remains unanswered.

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