Earlier in the day, Pope Francis met with five victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic clergy, telling them that those who committed crimes “will be held accountable”.
Leading up to the Pope’s US trip, there was wide speculation over whether he would meet with victims and address the crisis. He assured them that he believes them.
Pope Francis met with bishops afterward, discussing clerical sexual abuse and other issues, including consumerism and the state of the institution of marriage. “Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil… will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation – whatever the family, people, region or religion to which they belong!”
Over 1.5 million people are expected to attend Pope Francis’ Sunday mass, which will be held in the area between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“When there is an allegation of abuse, the church reaches out to the victim and also reaches out to law enforcement, because it’s imperative we involve law enforcement in the investigation of any allegation of abuse”, Burns said.
The main victims’ support group, SNAP, dismissed it as an exercise in public relations. It was believed to be the first time any pope has publicly described the abuse as rape. Clohessy said.
Pope Francis addresses inmates during his visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Sunday, September 27, 2015. Saviano was abused by a priest when he was 12 years old.
Victims’ groups have said the church has not done enough since reports of abuse and a subsequent cover-up made headlines in 2002.
Later, Francis visited a Philadelphia jail to give hope and encouragement to about 100 inmates, included suspected killers, rapists and mobsters. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church got out of the vehicle and walked towards 10-year-old Michael Keating, who has cerebral palsy, who was accompanied by his parents to witness the Pope’s arrival at the airport, the Washington Post reported.
Lombardi said the Vatican had not yet decided what discipline bishops who helped cover up abuse would face.
An abuse victim advocate doubted the usefulness of the Pope’s comments. “But there’s been no real room for all the families that the Catholic Church has destroyed through sexual abuse”. “Youth are protected and… all responsible will be held accountable”.
“This is the most time that I’ve had to reflect and pray… get close to Jesus”, Adams said.
In a country that has the largest prison population in the world, the pope told inmates from a podium that their time of incarceration could have only one objective: rehabilitation and paving their return to society.
People lined up at security checkpoints hours before the Mass began, chatting about their faith and their favorite sports teams. He – and he’s criticized the prison system that tends to only punish and humiliate prisoners. When he entered the hall, prison officials led Francis to an upholstered wooden chair that inmates had made for his visit.
Irion, of Michigan, said accepting the “once in a lifetime invite” wasn’t hard and described his visit to Philadelphia as “truly moving”.