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Pope Francis addresses child sex abuse in address to American bishops

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Such crimes should never be repeated

In an American address on Wednesday at Washington's Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Pope Francis told American bishops that the offenses of the Catholic church's sexual abuse scandals of the past must never be repeated.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis told American bishops, "I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims - in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed - and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated."

The pontiff's mention of the scandal incited several reactions, such as a comment from Marci Hamilton, a law professor at Cardoza University who represented hundreds of sex abuse victims, so said:

"I think the survivors had hope for more attention on their suffering. It's also shocking to hear him praise the bishops in their handling of child sex abuse when there are so many states that cut out the victims from the justice system."

Bill Casey, an employee at Voice of the Faithful advocating for survivors, said the pope should have addressed healing. "It's encouraging that he recognized [the abuse], but it sounds like it is all aimed at the bishops ... rather than the survivors," he said. "If that's all he says, I think that would be quite disappointing."

Pope Francis moved on to other topics, including the devil who he called "the evil one, (who) roars like a lion, anxious to devour." 

There was also mention of victims and how the church would be challenged to help "the innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow ... the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man's predatory relationship with nature."

Following his sobering words, Pope Francis greeted the masses, kissed babies and children and blew kisses toward the crowd. He smiled, waved, gave the thumbs-up sign and responded well to the crowd's frenzied cries of respect.


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