Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015Wednesday, Jun 3, 2015

Pope Francis to meet sex abuse victims for first time on Monday

Published on Jul 5, 2014 10:30 AM
Pope Francis looks on during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on June 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis will meet victims of paedophile priests for the first time on Monday, as a Vatican commission moves to address the problem of clerical sex abuse in developing countries.

Six victims from Britain, Germany and Ireland will talk with the head of the Roman Catholic Church at his private residence near Saint Peter's Basilica in a gesture aimed at expressing his closeness to the tens of thousands of people abused by priests globally.

The private meeting - the first with abuse victims since Pope Francis was elected in February last year - is hotly awaited by victim support groups who have criticised the Argentinian for not acting earlier.

The pope has been slow to speak out on an issue which has hugely damaged the Catholic Church for over a decade, but in May, he branded the sexual abuse of children by priests a crime comparable to a "satanic Mass" and promised "zero tolerance".

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!