Pope Francis caused outrage among Catholics after describing sex predators and abusers as “children of God” who deserve love and “pastoral care.”
The Pontiff’s remarks came during a private meeting with a group of Jesuit priests in Hungary last month.
However, due to the controversial nature of the Pope’s remarks, they were only published Tuesday by La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal.
“How do we approach, how do we talk to the abusers for whom we feel revulsion?” Francis was quoted as saying
“Yes, they too are children of God. But how can you love them?” the Pope said.
Francis was responding to a question from a Hungarian Jesuit, who asked: “The Gospel asks us to love, but how do we love at the same time people who have experienced abuse and their abusers?”
The Pope acknowledged that the answer to such a question was “not easy at all.”
While Pope Francis emphasized that sex predators should to be condemned, “but as a brother,” still deserving of love and care.
“There is a logic, a form of loving the enemy that is also expressed in this way,” he added.
“And it is not easy to understand and to live out. The abuser is an enemy.”
Despite the Pope’s remarks being about sexual abuse on a broader scale, the subtext to his answer touched on the ongoing pedophile scandal which rocked the Catholic Church amid the abuse of hundreds of thousands of children.
As The Daily Fetched reported earlier this year, over six hundred children were sexually abused by at least 150 priests and other Archdiocese personnel in a Baltimore Catholic church, a Maryland Attorney General’s report revealed.
The report details over 80 years of the church covering up the scandals.
In 2018, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General launched a Grand Jury investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore, listing an explosive list of 156 clergy members, teachers, and deacons as child sexual abusers in “hundreds of thousands” of documents dating back as far as 1940.
A Maryland state report revealed that more than 150 Catholic priests with the Archdiocese of Baltimore molested some 600 children, mostly with impunity, over the course of 80 years.
“When you hear what abuse leaves in the hearts of abused people, the impression you get is very powerful,” Francis told his fellow Jesuits during the April 29 meeting in Budapest, Hungary.
“Even talking to the abuser involves revulsion; it’s not easy.”
“But they are God’s children too,” he noted, referring to sexual predators.
“They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care. How do we provide that? No, it is not easy,” the Pope said.
As The New York Post noted, the Pontiff’s efforts to redress the crisis have been hampered by high-profile resignations from his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Last week, Francis urged the remaining panel members to pursue a “spirituality of reparation” with sexual abuse survivors.