Pontiff meets abuse survivors from Ireland, Britain and Germany

Pope Francis has told abuse survivors that bishops who fail to protect children from abuse “will be held accountable”.

Speaking at Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Pope said: “There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.”

He compared child abuse by priests and bishops to “a sacrilegious cult” and said that such crimes had “a toxic effect” on faith and hope in God.

“Some of you have held fast to faith, he said, “while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.”

Six abuse survivors – two each from Ireland, Britain and Germany – attended the Mass. The Pope received afterwards them at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said Francis spent 30 minutes with each of the six visitors.