VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis told newly ordained bishops Saturday that they must reject all forms of abuse and work in communion to fight the clerical culture that has fueled the sex abuse and cover-up scandal rocking his papacy.
Francis cited his recent letter about combatting abuse during an audience with 74 new bishops from 34 developing countries. The bishops were in Rome for training this week.
Their seminar took place during a crisis for the pope: a lone archbishop has alleged Francis covered up for a now-former U.S. cardinal who was accused of sexually molesting children and adult seminarians.
Francis has ignored calls from clergy and ordinary faithful to respond directly to the claims, saying there were times when “silence and prayer” were the best response.
However, the pontiff spoke in a general way about the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal to the new bishops. Many of them hail from dioceses where mishandled clerical abuse cases haven’t erupted publicly like it has in the United States, Europe and parts of Latin America.
“Just say no to abuse — of power, conscience or any type,” Francis said, adding that to do so the bishops must reject the clerical culture that often places clergy on a pedestal and which Francis himself has blamed for fueling the scandal.
Francis also told the new bishops they are there to serve their flocks, and must work in communion with the church, not as lone actors.
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