According to CNN news, Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation yet of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.
"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 thepriests -- to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio.
"The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, 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," Francis continued.
"On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children."
The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it may be the first time a pope has spoken of sanctioning "complicit bishops."
"But that is all it is: talk," said Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director.
"We beg the world's Catholics: Be impressed by deeds, not words. Until the Pope takes decisive action that protects kids, be skeptical and vigilant."
The Pope's new comments, made Friday to members of a Catholic nongovernmental organization, the International Catholic Child Bureau, represent a shift from his previous statements on sexual abuse.