Berks lawmaker, sexually abused by priest as a teen, says of pope’s visit: ‘It has brought back my nightmares’


READING, Pa. – Pope Francis drew lots of cheers in the United States, but now he’s coming under fire from a Berks County lawmaker and victims of sexual abuse.

Pennsylvania Representative Mark Rozzi first turned down VIP tickets to the papal events in Philadelphia, and now he’s slamming Pope Francis for comments he made surrounding sexual abuse.

“It has brought back my nightmares and some mental pain that I just can’t put myself through,” said Rozzi. “This has been a very difficult week.”

On Sunday, the Vatican said Pope Francis met with five abuse victims in private in Philadelphia. After the meeting, the pope spoke before bishops and clergy members at St. Charles Borremeo Seminary.

He said God weeps at the sexual abuse of children and vowed careful oversight to ensure the youth are protected. He also said those responsible for abuse would be held accountable.

Two times during his visit to the U.S., Pope Francis praised American bishops for how they handled the sex abuse scandal and told priests he felt their pain. “It was very disappointing hearing those comments, and in fact, I was outraged, and that’s why I slammed him,” Rozzi said.

“We heard these words before, but victims need action!” Rozzi, who represents the 126th District in Berks County, said he was sexually abused by a priest at age 13.

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