ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM ESTONIA
National Catholic Reporter
September 25, 2018
By Joshua J. McElwee
This article appears in the Francis in the Baltics feature series. View the full series.
Pope Francis has defended the measures undertaken by the Catholic Church in recent years to respond to clergy sexual abuse, saying the global institution has grown in its understanding of the “monstrous” problem and has “spared no effort” to protect children.
In a press conference aboard the Sept. 25 papal flight back to Rome after a four-day visit to the three Baltic States, the pontiff said that the number of children abused over past decades “has diminished because the church has realized that it must fight in a different way.”
“In older times, these things were covered up,” he said. “They covered it up because there was a very great shame. It was a way of thinking in the … past century.”
“The church has … become aware of this and has spared no effort,” he said.
Francis spoke about abuse in a 55-minute press conference in which he also addressed concerns about the Vatican’s recent announcement of a “provisional agreement” with China to resolve a seven-decade dispute over how Catholic bishops are appointed in that country.
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