Pope Francis meets with sex abuse victims on last day of US tour


As the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' bankruptcy case continues to play out in court, Pope Francis spoke with clergy sex abuse victims in Philadelphia Sunday.

"I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm," Pope Francis said Sunday in unscripted remarks at the beginning of an address to bishops, USA Today reports. "I am profoundly sorry. God weeps."

Hundreds of Minnesotans have come forward claiming abuse against priests and others in the Catholic Church in recent years, prompting the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to file for bankruptcy protection in response to abuse claims settlements, The Associated Press says.

On Sunday morning, the pope met with five adults – three women and two men – who were victims of sexual abuse when they were younger, the Washington Post says. He told them he is committed to making sure those guilty of abuse are punished.

The meeting came after he was criticized for earlier remarks on the sex abuse scandal while on his United States tour, the Guardian reports. In a speech to U.S. bishops Wednesday, Francis said the bishops showed "courage" in confronting the sex abuse crisis, which damaged the church's reputation.

However, some abuse survivors, including leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), criticized Pope Francis, saying his words implied the church was the victim, not the victims themselves.

Pope Francis also commended the bishops for selling church property to compensate the victims, the paper says. (This is something the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has done to pay off some of its debt related to sex abuse claims.)

This was Pope Francis first meeting with victims outside of Rome, the Guardian says.

The pope wraps up his historical three-city U.S. tour Sunday. Hundreds of Minnesotans traveled to the East Coast for a chance to see or meet with the pope.

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