Just a day after one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent cardinals admitted that child sex abuse files were either destroyed or never created Pope Francis has branded clergy who abuse children “tools of Satan.”
Speaking at the end of a historic Vatican conference on clerical sex abuse the Pope called for an “all-out battle” on the crime that should be “erased from the face of the Earth.”
Using fiery rhetoric, Pope Francis said that even a single case of abuse is an “atrocity” and vowed that the Church will protect children from the “ravenous wolves.”
He described the hearts of some clergy as having been “dulled by hypocrisy and power” and promised to bring abusers to justice.
He outlined that the National Bishops Conferences guidelines on clerical sexual abuse will be reviewed and bolstered and the Church’s definition of a ‘minor’ will be raised from the current age of 14 years to “expand protection” for children.
The Pope went on to argue that the “vast majority” of priests are good and also dedicated a significant chunk of the beginning of the speech to demonstrate that most child sex abuse takes place in families.
The four-day summit was attended by 114 bishops from all over the world. On Saturday Cardinal Reinhard Marx revealed to the gathering that predator priests were able to continue abusing children because files on their crimes were either destroyed or never existed.
As part of an admission that the rights of victims were “effectively trampled underfoot,” Marx said that “procedures and processes” that could have led to successful prosecutions were “deliberately not complied with.”
The landmark conference comes following several fresh abuse scandals in Chile, Germany, and the US state of Pennsylvania. Recent investigations revealed that abusers were frequently moved to other parishes and their crimes were hushed up to preserve the Church’s reputation.