Pope Francis has said he has taken it upon himself to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, telling CNN’s channel partner CNN Portugal that he is “responsible that it won’t happen again.”
In an exclusive wide-ranging interview in Rome last month, the Pope said the church has “zero tolerance” for abuse and said “a priest cannot remain a priest if he I’m an abuser.”
The church’s response to sexual abuse scandals has become one of the prominent themes during Francis’ time as Pope, and he told CNN Portugal that every case of abuse in the home worship all “hurt” him.
Numerous reports detailing decades of sexual abuse, systematic failure and cover-ups in many countries have been published since Pope Francis became the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the world. world in 2013. While he was criticized for some of his actions – such as when he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up a sex scandal in 2018, a decision that what he later described as a “serious mistake” – he stood firm on these issues and introduced a number of reforms.
In 2019, he repealed the Vatican’s secrecy rules for sexual abuse cases and introduced new rules that made it mandatory for all dioceses to establish a reporting system for the first time. abuse and cover-up.
Two years later, he enacted the most extensive amendment to Catholic Church law in four decades, emphasizing that bishops must take action against clerics who abuse minors and adults. become vulnerable. The rules also require action against priests who scam or attempt to ordain women.
Addressing the subject, Francis said he doesn’t believe single life played a role in causing the abuse.
“I don’t deny abuse. Even if it’s just a [case], it’s really weird. Because you, the priest, you, the nun, have to bring that boy and that girl to God and with this you destroy their lives. It’s monstrous. It is destroying lives. And then they come to you with questions. It could be single [is to blame]? It’s not about being single,” he said.
“This is a thing about abuse, it is a destructive, insidious thing to people,” he said. “In families there’s no celibacy and all that and, sometimes, it happens. So it’s simply the monstrosity of a man or woman of the church having a mental illness. rational or evil and use their status for personal gain,” he added.
Criticism for comments about war
The Pope also revealed that he has been in contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to him by phone.
He said he had previously met both Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when they visited him in Rome. But when asked if he could say anything to the two, the Pope said: “I don’t know.
“I had a dialogue with both [of them]. Both visited me here before the war. And I have always believed that in dialogue we always move forward,” said the Pope. You know anyone who doesn’t know how to talk? Animals. They are pure instincts. “
Francis has been criticized for some of his comments about Russia’s war on Ukraine. In a June interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francis said the war was “perhaps in some way either provoked or unstoppable.” He said that before Russia invaded Ukraine, he met with “a head of state” who was “very worried about how NATO is moving.”
Last month, the Pope angered Kyiv by referring to Russian political commentator Darya Dugina, the daughter of a radical nationalist philosopher, as one of the “innocent” victims of the uprising. war after she was killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, to discuss Francis’ statement, saying it “gratuitously” equates “aggressor and victim.”
The pope, who has previously said he would be willing to go to Kyiv and Moscow, told CNN that a visit to Portugal is “going up in the air.”
No Pope has ever been to Moscow before. Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine in 2001.
He says he is unable to travel at the moment because of problems with his knee, but says his presence in Ukraine is “strong” because he has sent several cardinals to Kyiv to represent for him.