ROME, Italy — Pope Francis wrote to Catholic bishops around the world Thursday, ordering them to cooperate with investigations into sex abuse and telling them: “Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children.”
The open letter, published on the Vatican website, came a day before the first full meeting of the Church’s own commission to examine investigate and prevent such scandals.
Families “should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home,” the pontiff wrote. “Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.”
One of the members of the commission, Marie Collins of Ireland, herself a victim of sexual abuse, told Reuters that commission members had asked the pope to write a letter to thwart any resistance from bishops to its work.
Francis said he had been “deeply moved” at a meeting in July with abuse victims at which he heard “the depth of their sufferings and the strength of their faith.”
He wrote: “This experience reaffirmed my conviction that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused."
- Claudio Lavanga and Alastair Jamieson