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Pope Francis admits abuse scandals have driven younger people away from Catholic Church

'Many young people do not turn to us for anything'

Zamira Rahim
Tuesday 25 September 2018 13:35 BST
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'I beg the Lord’s forgiveness' for child abuse 'betrayal' says Pope Francis at a service in Knock, Ireland

Pope Francis admitted on Tuesday that sex abuse scandals surrounding the Catholic Church have driven younger people away.

"We know - and you have told us - that many young people do not turn to us for anything because they don't feel we have anything meaningful to say to them," he told a group of Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox young people in Estonia.

"They are upset by sexual and economic scandals that do not meet with clear condemnation, by our unpreparedness to really appreciate the lives and sensibilities of the young, and simply by the passive role we assign them."

Surveys commissioned by the Vatican, ahead of a bishops meeting next week to discuss how to better minister to young Catholics, have been filled with similar complaints.

Francis said that the church wanted to respond to the criticism in an honest and transparent way.

"We ourselves need to be converted," he said.

"We have to realise that in order to stand by your side we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off."

The Pope was speaking during the fourth and final day of his tour of the Baltics.

The public admission coincided with a devastating new report into decades of sex abuse and cover-ups in Germany.

The document, produced by the German bishops' conference, found that around 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014.

Over half of those abused were 13 or younger. Nearly a third were altar boys.

University researchers compiled the report and found evidence that some files on the abuse were destroyed, many cases were not brought to justice and some bishops were simply moved to other dioceses when complaints were made, without congregations being informed about the accusations.

The sex abuse scandal began in Ireland in the 1990s but has returned to the headlines recently after a former Vatican ambassador accused the Pope of knowing about abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick, an American cardinal.

Francis is accused of rehabilitating Mr McCarrick despite the allegations.

The former cardinal later resigned from his position, after a US church investigation found an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor to be credible

Pope Francis has declined to comment on the accusations, but the Vatican is expected to respond soon.

The Pope is visiting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to mark the 100th anniversaries of their independence and to encourage the faith in the countries which saw five decades of Soviet-imposed religious repression.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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