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Pope criticizes U.S. bishops' handling of sex abuse crisis

Pope Francis.
Pope Francis. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

In a lengthy and highly unusual letter to U.S. bishops on Thursday, Pope Francis wrote that the mounting child sex abuse crisis has jeopardized the Catholic Church's credibility. He lambasted church leaders for focusing "more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation.”

“This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."
— Pope Francis in the letter to U.S. bishops

Details: The 8-page letter comes as American bishops gather in Illinois for a retreat ordered by the Pope. It has a mix of spiritual inspiration and blunt criticism. Francis, who has himself faced criticism over his handling of some cases, did not issue any specific proposals.

He wrote that there’s an urgent demand for a "renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts," but said it "cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources."

"Let us be clear: many of those things are necessary yet insufficient, since they cannot grasp and deal with reality in its complexity; ultimately, they risk reducing everything to an organizational problem."

What's next: AP reports that about 50 dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in the wake of August's shocking revelations from Pennsylvania. Over the next few months, 55 more are set to follow suit.

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