Sep 18, 2021 - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia
Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on Sept. 15, 2021, in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.

  • Nearly a dozen current and retired Polish bishops "have been sanctioned by the Vatican in recent months for their repeated failures to listen to victims and take action to sanction the priests who raped and molested them," AP notes.

What he's saying: "Only by confronting the truth of this cruel behavior and humbly seeking forgiveness from victims and survivors can the church find the way to once again be considered and trusted as a place of welcome and security for those who need it," Francis said.

The big picture: Francis has passed legislation in an effort to hold bishops accountable for covering up abuse, following years of complaints from survivors that the Vatican failed to respond to allegations.

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