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'Grave Crimes': Pope Begs Forgiveness Of Sex Abuse Victims

Pope Francis welcomed six unnamed abuse victims — two each from Ireland, the UK, and Germany — to the Vatican on Sunday.
Posted at 3:12 PM, Jul 07, 2014

An apology from the head of the Roman Catholic church Monday — as Pope Francis begged forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests. (Via Getty Images)

Pope Francis welcomed six unnamed abuse victims — two each from Ireland, the UK, and Germany — to the Vatican on Sunday. (Via Catholic News Service

There he reportedly had dinner with the group Sunday evening, before holding a private mass, and meeting with them individually on Monday.

According to the BBC, in his apology Pope Francis referred to sexual abuse within the church as “grave crimes,” adding, "I beg your forgiveness ... for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately [to reports of sex abuse]."

The meeting was the first between the Pope and victims of sexual abuse since he was elected to the Papacy 16 months ago — a span of time that has drawn criticism from some. (Via ABC)

That along with a perceived lack of action since Pope Francis and his predecessor began meeting with victims of sexual abuse.

NBC quotes Mary Caplan, leader of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, “Over the past 2000 years, two popes have met with about two dozen clergy sex abuse victims. Very little has changed. A dozen popes could meet with 100 victims ... These meetings are public relations coups for the Vatican and a distracting placebo for others.”

Some in the media also pointed out Pope Francis didn’t meet with any victims from Argentina, his home country, or the United States.

As NPR notes, “The person who heads the pope's commission on protection of minors is Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston ... So the absence of American victims is striking.”

Criticisms aside, the Catholic Church has made some steps towards ending sexual abuse within its ranks. 

Back in May the pope promised a “zero tolerance” policy against child abuse within the church. (Via The GuardianTime)

And in July of 2013 the Pontiff toughened laws against sexual abuse within the Vatican. According to The Telegraph, changes included “a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors, including the sale of children, child prostitution, the recruitment of children, sexual violence and sexual acts with children, and the production and possession of child pornography.”

The Pope also made those crimes punishable by up to 12 years in prison. (Via Getty Images)

Pope Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict reportedly met with survivors of sexual abuse some six times during his eight years in the papacy. This was the first time a meeting with sexual abuse survivors has been held at the Vatican. (Via Vatican)