Francis ends Vatican summit with promise church will 'decisively confront' abuse

Vatican City
This article appears in the Vatican Abuse Summit feature series. View the full series.


Pope Francis celebrates a Mass on the last day of the four-day meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 24, in this image taken from Vatican television. (CNS photo/Vatican Television via Reuters)

Pope Francis ended his landmark summit with 190 Catholic bishops on clergy sexual abuse Feb. 24 with a promise the church will "decisively confront" the abuse of minors, but also warned that the global institution must avoid "ideological disputes and journalistic practices" that he said exploit the scandals.

In a lengthy address ending the first-of-its-kind four-day meeting with the heads of the world's Catholic bishops' conferences, the pontiff mixed condemnations of abuse in the church with references to its prevalence in other areas of society and cautionings against the faith community being too extreme in its response.

At one point in the half-hour speech, the pope called clerics who abuse children "tools of Satan" and declared bluntly that such criminal behavior is "utterly incompatible with [the church's] moral authority and ethical credibility."

At another point, Francis said that in responding to abuse the church must avoid what he called the "extreme" of  "'justicialism,' provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure."

"The Church's aim will … be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are," the pope promised.

Francis then continued: "To achieve that goal, the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones."

This breaking news story is being updated.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]



Francis ends Vatican summit with promise church will 'decisively confront' abuse