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Pope Francis Says Church Deserves Blame for Sex Abuse Response

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July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Pope Francis met with six victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy and said the church put minors in danger and deserves blame for failing to take timely action when accusations arose.

“So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained,” Francis said today in a homily to victims, according to a text posted on the Vatican’s website. “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.”

Clergy abused tens of thousands of children worldwide in past decades as church inaction allowed predators to repeat their crimes, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said in a February report. Francis, 77, said in April more must be done to punish offenders. Today, he said the inadequacy of the church’s response to allegations carried negative consequences.

“This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk,” Francis said. “I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Zoe Schneeweiss, Ben Sills