Pope Asks Victims of Sexual Abuse for Forgiveness


Pope Francis is asking forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy and he's vowing to hold bishops accountable for the protection of minors.

The pledge came as the pope met for the first time with six adult victims who suffered clerical sexual abuse as youth. The pope held a special mass for them.

Three men and three women -- two from Ireland, two from England, and two from Germany -- met privately with the pope at his Vatican residence. The pope allowed each one to bring a relative or friend with them, as well as a translator.

During his homily, translated from Spanish, the pope asked forgiveness for church leaders who failed to respond "adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves."

`'Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness," Francis said.

But some victims who weren't at the meeting called it little more than a "PR move." 

"To me it is a PR move," abuse victim Becky Ianni said. "I hope the victims he met with, I hope they find healing. And it is brave of them to meet with him, but the meeting today isn't going to protect a child and that's what we need to do."

Some advocacy groups said the Vatican often moves pedophile priests to a different parish without alerting parishioners to the inherent danger of repeated offenses.

Norbert Denef, spokesman for a German survivor advocacy group, also called the meeting "nothing more than a PR event."

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