Pope Francis to Meet Sex Abuse Victims of Paedophile Priests for the 1st Time; Compares Abuse to a Satanic Mass

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By Vittorio Hernandez | July 7, 2014 8:33 AM EST

Pope Francis will make history again on Monday, July 7, by being the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to meet with sex victims of paedophile priests. The move represents a big leap forward for the church which had been accused in the past of covering up the sex abuse cases involving clergy by moving those accused to other parishes or dioceses and not cooperating with authorities.

REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito
Pope Francis speaks as he leads a mass in Sibari, southern Italy, June 21, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (ITALY - Tags: RELIGION)

The pontiff will meet with six victims from Britain, Germany and Ireland at his private residence. Victim support groups, however, has criticised the pope for not acting earlier.

Along with the meeting, a Vatican commission created by Pope Francis is moving to address the problem, especially in developing countries. The commission is made up of experts from eight countries, including sex abuse victims Marie Collins from Ireland who was assaulted by a hospital chaplain when she was 13 years old, a German psychologist, an Italian cannon law professor, British and French psychiatrists and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston where a sex abuse scandal broke in 2002.

The meeting could possibly open up the commission to experts from developing nations and the Southern Hemisphere where paedophilia is considered taboo and there is less openness in reporting sex abuse cases.

Pope Francis has called clergy sex abuse as an ugly crime and compared it to a satanic mass. He challenged clerics, including bishops, to have zero tolerance for sex abuse, whose definition he broadened in 2013 to include paedophilia. But the stronger Vatican law only covers the clergy and lay people working in or for the Holy See. It does not apply to the whole 2-billion strong Roman Catholic Church.

In the past decade, Canon Law prosecutors have handled 3,420 sex abuse cases, resulting to the defrocking of 848 priests, including Polish Archbishop Jozef Wosolowski, the former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic, who was convicted of sex abuse by a Church tribunal in June 2014 and defrocked.

Another 2,572 were ordered to live a life of prayer or penance inside church institutions such as a monastery.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito / )
Pope Francis speaks as he leads a mass in Sibari, southern Italy, June 21, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (ITALY - Tags: RELIGION)
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