Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 11, 2014

Pope asks forgiveness for abusive priests

Father Thomas Reese, author of “Inside the Vatican,” joins Ronan Farrow to discuss Pope Francis’ landmark speech that addressed the scourge of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back, everybody. major news today out of the vatican as pope francis asked for forgiveness for the quote, damage done by priests who have sexually abused children. it is a scandal that has gone on for decade implicating thousands of priests. the pontiff said, i feel personally compelled to take on all of the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, not compared to all of the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness and added the church is aware of the moral damage carried out by men of the church . joining us from washington, d.c., thomas reese of the national catholic reporter . father reese, thank you for coming back on the program. the pope said sanctions need to be imposed. what do you expect those to be? more than just talk?

>> i think the pope clearly already supports zero tolerance for any priest involved in sexual abuse . that means that they are never going to be able to act as a priest again. he supported that position when he was the arch bishop of buenos a aires, we have to have november to make sure the priests never get abuse another child.

>> the pope defended the church 's response to abusers and said, quote, no one else has done more than the church to root out pedophile. why the about face in tone, do you think?

>> i think the pope is still learning how to talk about sexual abuse . he didn't have any experience of it in buenos aires and he needs coaching how to deal with it. it's true the church has made great progress and the church is doing a lot to protect children. for someone in a roman collar or for the pope to say that it sounds so defensive. the only proper defense is to say i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i'm sorry and to apologize, apologize, apologize. and then to sit and listen to the victims, hear their stories, cry with them. i mean, you know, this is what the pope needs to do.

>> he seems to have come around to a pitch perfect rep indication. do you personally think the church has done enough?

>> well, the church was terrible in handling the cases of sex abuse in the past. it's doing much better now, but it can always do better. we have to be constantly vigilant. we can't let our guard down. we have to make sure the children are safe. some countries have made great progress and others, i think there are other countries with bishops that don't think they have a problem. well, they got to get with the program. they've got to be pro active and making sure that children are safe.

>> it does seem like the pope has gotten his messaging with the program as you say. but the question remains whether the messaging will actually have follow-on actions. one thing that seems to suggest real action, he made first appointments to a special commission dedicated to sexual abuse , including an outspoken activist abused by a priest. what can we expect to see from that commission? do you think they'll take any action?

>> i think the commission is very important. they are going to be part of the process of educating the pope on this. it's so important that there is a survivor of sexual abuse on that commission to talk to the pope directly about this problem. and that there are other people on it who are experts who have treated victims of abuse, and others. so this is very important. i think they've -- they are going to tell the pope he needs to meet, sit down and listen to victims of sexual abuse . they are also going to tell him he has to deal with the bishops who aren't with the program. to make sure that they know he's very displeased and if they don't get with the program, they've got to get out of the way. we need to get rid of them.

>> an issue that the church is evolving fast on. thank you very much. appreciate it.