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Pope expresses ‘shame’ at scale of clergy abuse in France

Pope Francis speaks from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at The Vatican to a crowd of faithful and pilgrims gathered for the Sunday Angelus noon prayer, Sunday, June 6, 2021. Pope Francis has expressed sorrow over the discovery in Canada of the remains of 215 boarding school students but didn't offer the apology sought by the Canadian prime minister. Francis in public remarks on Sunday called on political and church authorities to work to shed light “on this sad affair” and to foster healing. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis expressed “shame” for himself and the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday for the scale of child sexual abuse within the church in France and acknowledged failures in putting the needs of victims first.

The pope spoke during his regular audience at the Vatican about a report released Tuesday that estimated some 330,000 French children were abused by clergy and other church authority figures dating back to 1950.

“There is, unfortunately, a considerable number. I would like to express to the victims my sadness and pain for the trauma that they suffered,’’ Francis said. “It is also my shame, our shame, my shame, for the incapacity of the church for too long to put them at the center of its concerns.”

He called on all bishops and religious superiors to take all actions necessary “so similar dramas are not repeated.”

The pope also expressed his “closeness and paternal support” to French priests in the face of a “difficult test,’’ and called on French Catholics to “ensure that the church remains a safe house for all.”

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