Pope Francis has condemned clerical sex abuse as an “absolute monstrosity” and asked victims and their families for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church.
In an unusual move, the pontiff’s comments were published as a preface to a new book by Daniel Pittet, a Swiss victim who was sexually abused for four years by a priest when he was a child.
“How can a priest in the service of Christ and his church cause so much evil?” the pope said. “This is an absolute monstrosity, a horrendous sin, completely opposed to what Christ teaches us.”
The pontiff said he had personally witnessed the damage caused by clerical abuse and it affected him deeply.
“Several victims have committed suicide. These deaths weigh on my heart and my conscience and on the whole church,” Francis said. “To their families I send my feelings of love and heartache and humbly ask their forgiveness.”
The pontiff met Pittet, now a 57-year-old father of six, at the Vatican in 2015. In the preface published Monday (Feb. 13) by the Italian daily, La Repubblica and other media outlets, Francis said he was struck by Pittet’s personal suffering and his desire to forgive his abuser.