(AFP) - Pope Francis on Monday warned there were "no privileges" for bishops when it came to child sex crimes and said he would hold a special mass with victims next week in the Vatican.
"Three bishops are being investigated," Francis told reporters on his return flight from the Middle East when asked about the thousands of scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church.
"One of them has already been convicted. There are no privileges. Priests who do this are betraying the Lord," said the Argentine pontiff, who has set up a new committee to root out abuse.
Francis also said he would be celebrating a mass next week at his Vatican residence, St Martha's, with "six or eight victims" and would then meet with them privately to talk about their ordeal.
The Pope last month personally asked forgiveness for the "evil" of abuses and promised more action in response to accusations of cover-ups and excessive leniency by the Vatican.
At a UN hearing earlier this year, Vatican officials revealed that 3,420 abuse cases had been handled over the past decade by the Catholic Church's Canon Law prosecutors.
As a result of these cases, 848 priests were defrocked - expelled from the priesthood. A further 2,572 were ordered to "live a life of prayer or penance", for example in a monastery.