In his strongest statement on the scandals involving Catholic priests preying on children, Pope Francis ordered pedophile priests to “Convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” as he delivered his Christmas message at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall earlier this month.
Lamenting that the credibility of the church has been “undermined” by its own actions in the past to cover up and protect hundreds of predatory church officials whom he likened to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ, the pope asserted that the church will “never again” sweep abuse by the clergy under the rug:
“Let it be clear that before these abominations the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. This is no easy task, since the guilty are capable of skillfully covering their tracks.
“The Church asks that people not be silent, but bring it objectively to light, since the greater scandal in this matter is that of cloaking the truth.”
Asserting that the Church will hereafter be vigilant about weeding such predators out, Pope Francis said: “The sins and crimes of consecrated persons are further tainted by infidelity and shame; they disfigure the countenance of the Church and undermine her credibility.”
He added that while the church is presently plunged in darkness, he believes that the church will emerge from these scandals stronger as he quoted Romans 13:12: “The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
According to NPR, the pope also offered “heartfelt thanks” to journalists who exposed predatory church officials. He thanked members of the media “who were honest and objective and sought to unmask these predators and to make their victims’ voices heard.”