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Pope Francis met with six clergy abuse victims for the first time Monday; holding first a private Mass before meeting one on one with each of the victims for approximately a half an hour. The mass was held at Domus Sanctae Marthae and included victims from Ireland, Britain, and Germany.
According to The Washington Post, Francis discussed the effect of the sins committed against the victims during the mass, including how abuse often leads to problems such as relationship issues, addiction, and possibly suicide.
He also denounced the priests who have sexually abused the innocent and stated that their actions resembled a “sacrilegious cult." He then asked for forgiveness and for the church to make reparation for the victims that have been betrayed, according to a transcript obtained from the Vatican’s press office.
While Francis is making an attempt to make right what has been wronged, several people are upset because they feel he is doing it for publicity purposes. People also think that waiting 16 months after being elected to hold a meeting is too long. However, Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, backed Francis and said that those who criticized him did not understand that his motives were good.
Since being elected Francis has taken numerous measures to reverse sexual abuse in the church. He has assured that sexual abuse against children will not be tolerated and has also modified the Vatican law on child abuse. Under the new law, child abuse includes child prostitution, child pornography, and performing sexual acts with children.
The penalty for violating the law is 12 years in prison, according to NBC News.
Francis also assured that justice will be served to those who wrong the innocent.