Pope reaffirms 'zero tolerance' for sexual assault cases

Pope reaffirms “zero tolerance” for sexual assault cases

“I don't deny abuse. A single abuse would already be monstrous,” acknowledged Pope Francis.

The Catholic Church must show “zero tolerance” in handling cases of sexual assault, Pope Francis reiterated on Sunday. Yet the pontiff recently opposed the opening of a new investigation against a Canadian cardinal who has been the subject of sexual assault allegations.

It's very clear, it's zero tolerance. A priest cannot continue to be a priest if he is an aggressor. He cannot because he is either ill or a criminal, the pope said in an interview with a Portuguese television channel, excerpts of which were published on the media's website.

It's monstrous, because it destroys lives, he added in this two-part interview which will be broadcast on Sunday and Monday evening.

I do not deny abuse. A single abuse would already be monstrous, the pope acknowledged.

Like France, an independent commission, whose work began at the beginning of this year. year, is responsible for investigating sexual abuse within the Church in Portugal, a country with a strong Catholic tradition.

This commission, created on the initiative of the Church, has already collected 400 testimonies, 17 of which have been communicated to justice, recently indicated Pedro Stretch, the child psychiatrist who heads this working group whose conclusions must be presented to the court. end of the year.

In addition, the pope indicated that he intended to visit Portugal during the upcoming Catholic World Youth Day (WYD) which will take place from August 1 to 6, 2023.

Originally scheduled for August 2022, WYD had been postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pope's statement contrasts with his opposition in mid-August to the opening of a new investigation by the Catholic Church into Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is the subject of assault allegations sexual.

In a statement released by the Vatican on August 18, the pope said there was not enough evidence for the Catholic Church to launch a new investigation into the crime. x27;influential Quebec cardinal.

Pope Francis says there is insufficient evidence to open a canonical investigation into sexual assault of the from Cardinal Ouellet, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a brief statement.

The name of the Vatican strongman, tipped to one day succeed Pope Francis, appears in a document made public as part of a collective action on all sexual assaults allegedly committed by people in position of authority in the diocese of Quebec since 1940.

The acts of which he is accused were allegedly committed between 2008 and 2010.

He grabbed me, and there… the hands behind my back, they still went down quite low […] Quite intrusive for someone who is my superior, who is the Archbishop of Quebec, recounted the complainant in her deposition.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet strongly denies allegations of sexual assault against him and calls them “defamatory”.

More Earlier this week, several other senior Canadian clergy had their names placed on the list of alleged sexual abusers.

One ​​hundred and sixteen plaintiffs are now listed in the action, the vast majority of whom were minors at the time of the alleged events.

During his recent trip to Canada, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness from all the victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church in Canada.

I am thinking in particular of the sexual abuse committed against minors and vulnerable people, scandals that call for strong action and an irreversible fight, he declared to the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Québec.

With information from Agence France-Presse

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