Pope Francis has said sex abusers are vile “enemies” who deserve condemnation and punishment – but also Christian love and apostolic care because they too are children of God.
Francis made his remarks in a private conversation with the Jesuits on 29 April, while he was visiting Hungary.
Francis is also a Jesuit and the comments were published Tuesday in the Italian Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, as is customary after such meetings.
Abuse scandals have tarnished the church’s reputation and have been a major challenge for the pope, who has passed a series of measures over the past 10 years aimed at making the church’s hierarchy more accountable, with mixed results.
During Francis’ visit, a Hungarian member of the Jesuits religious order asked Francis how it was possible to follow Jesus’ commandment to love one’s enemies when the enemy was a sexual abuser.
Francis replied, “How do we approach, how do we talk to abusers for whom we feel disgust? Yes, they are also children of God. But how can you love them? It is a powerful The question is.”
The abuser “must be condemned, but as a brother,” Francis said, calling it “a form of loving the enemy,” though he acknowledged that such an attitude could have consequences for people. Because life was difficult. lives.
“The abuser is an enemy. Each one of us feels this because we empathize with the pain of the abuser… It is loath to even talk to the abuser; it is not easy But they are also children of God. They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care,” he said.
Last week the pope praised the work of an international Vatican commission on the prevention of sexual abuse and encouraged it to move forward, following the recent acrimonious resignation of a high-profile member who accused it of a lack of transparency. Was.
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