Pope Francis Asks Victims to Forgive Their Sexually Abusive Priests

It’s almost Palm Sunday and Pope Francis has made an interesting request; he's asking all of the victims who were sexually abused by Catholic priests to forgive their abusers. And he's promising that the church will continue to fight its disturbing trend of sexual assault.

Francis, as we reported last month, has been trying to fix the Catholic church’s sordid legacy without publicly punishing the offenders. Perhaps he forgot that when the public has been wronged, they often like to see heads roll for said crimes. Maybe we should send him a copy of Game of Thrones as a refresher. Instead Francis tried being positive about the church’s progress on the issue, saying "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No-one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked."

But without hard action, some felt he sounded dismissive.

This morning, speaking to the International Catholic Child Bureau, reports the AP, Pope Francis said he felt compelled to ask the victims to forgive those who’d harmed them.

"The church is aware of this damage," he was quoted as saying by Vatican Radio. "We don't want to take a step back in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I think we must be even stronger! You don't play around with the lives of children."

His words are a no brainer, but victims groups claim that he’s taken no definitive action against sexual abusers in the church since naming a commission to do just that in December. Then in March, the Pope added and announced a number of women, included one who was sexually assaulted by a priest, to the commission but still no heads have rolled a la Ned Stark.

The Vatican says the commission will investigate the legal duties and responsibilities of church staff to see which bishops are, or have been, complicit in their priests' sexual misconduct. If found guilty, church law calls for sanctions directed at the offending bishops. But with such a long history of abuse among priests who’ve targeted parishioners, no bishop has been disciplined to-date for looking the other way on these crimes. That means Francis is not doing all he can to “be even stronger” by making sure his priests aren’t hurting children. But Easter is a time of spiritual rebirth so maybe after all that forgiveness, Francis can get busy with action.

Image via Getty.