Pope Francis has told the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer he should respond “decisively” to the issue of sexual abuse of minor by clergy, the Vatican said Friday.
Pope Francis met Friday morning (5 April 2013) with Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Vatican’s powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to a press release.
Pope Francis has called on the Catholic Church to “act decisively” against paedophile priests, warning that the Church’s credibility is on the line.
The new Pontiff has issued his first public comments on the sex abuse scandals plaguing the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis said in a statement that the Church must promote measures to protect young people, help victims and take ensure the perpetrators are punished.
The media release said the Pope wanted Catholic bishops around the world to promote and put into place “directives in this matter which is so important for the witness of the Church and its credibility”.
The Vatican today reported that the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with Pope Francis this morning and was told to continue along the lines set by Benedict XVI and act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse.
The communiqué says that Francis and Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller discussed various issues pertaining to the doctrinal congregation.
“In particular,” the statement added, “the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation, continuing along the lines set by Benedict XVI, act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, first of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors, as well as in offering assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carrying out due proceedings against the guilty, and in the commitment of bishops’ conferences to formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church’s witness and credibility.”
The communiqué also noted that Francis assured “that victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering.”
Among other initiatives, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked episcopal conferences to submit by June 2012 guidelines for preventing sexual abuse and dealing with cases. Earlier this year, more than 75% of bishops’ conferences worldwide had complied. The majority of those conferences still working on the guidelines are in Africa.