Pope says ‘zero tolerance’ against Catholic Church sexual abuse cases

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Pope Francis gave a clarion call to rid the Catholic church of sexual abuse, saying that he has taken it upon himself to ensure “zero tolerance” against sexual assault by members of the clergy.

Speaking to CNN in Rome, the Pontiff said that every case of abuse within the church “hurts” him.  He also raised the possibility of retiring due to his declining health.

“A priest cannot continue being a priest if he is an aggressor. He cannot because he is either sick, or a criminal,” he said.

“It’s monstrous because it destroys lives,” he added. The two-part interview will be aired on Sunday and Monday.

Francis also denied the possibility of celibacy having played a role in causing the abuse.

“I don’t deny the abuse. Even if it was only one [case], it is monstrous. Because you, priest, you, nun, have to take that boy, 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. Could it be that celibacy [is to blame]? It’s not about celibacy,” he said.

“This is one thing about abuse, it is a destructive thing, humanly diabolical,” he said. “In families, there is no celibacy and all that and, sometimes, it happens. So, it is simply the monstrosity of a man or woman of the church who is psychologically ill or evil and uses their position for their personal satisfaction,” he added.

Since he was appointed the Pope in 2016, several reports of sexual abuse, cover-ups and systematic failures to address the issue in the churches in multiple countries have emerged.

He also admitted that made a “grave error” in defending a Chilean bishop accused of covering up a sex scandal in 2018.

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