The Pope’s meetings with abuse survivors are regular and ongoing, the Vatican press office has confirmed.

“I can confirm that several times a month, the Holy Father meets victims of sexual abuse both individually and in groups,” Greg Burke said.

According to transcripts of Pope Francis’s conversations with Jesuits in January, Pope Francis told one group in Peru that he often meets survivors of sex abuse on Fridays. The transcripts were released in Italian and English by La Civiltà Cattolica with the Pope’s approval.

Francis said the meetings, which do not always become public knowledge, show that the survivors’ process of recovery “is very hard. They remain annihilated. Annihilated.”

The scandal of clerical sexual abuse demonstrates not only the “fragility” of the Catholic Church, he said, “but also – let us speak clearly – our level of hypocrisy”.

In a discussion about spiritual “consolation” and “desolation”, terms in the Jesuit tradition of discernment, one Jesuit told Pope Francis that Catholics were “very disturbed” by sexual abuse scandals, and that it leads to “a lot of desolation in the Church”, especially among both male and female Religious.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection