Pope Francis asked Friday for forgiveness from the victims of pedophile priests in some of his strongest words to date about the Catholic church's sex abuse crisis.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome that:
"The pope has come under fire from advocacy groups for a perceived lack of attention to the issue.
"Friday, in off-the-cuff remarks to members of the International Catholic Child Bureau, Francis said he felt compelled to take it upon himself to ask forgiveness for the evil that some priests had committed in sexually abusing children."
"Vatican Radio quotes the pope as saying: "I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number — obviously not compared to the number of all the priests — to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.
" 'The church is aware of this damage — it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church," Francis added, "and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed.' "
"Last month, as Sylvia reminds us, "Francis named the first members of a commission to advise him on the best practices to combat sex abuse. The Vatican suggested the panel may take up the crucial issue of sanctioning bishops who covered up abusers. To date none has been disciplined."
The International Catholic Child Bureau describes itself as:
"An international catholic network of organisations engaged in the promotion and protection of the children's rights and of their dignity. A French non-profit association, BICE is present in 66 countries on 4 different continents through its member organisations and its partners."