Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on behalf of priests who sexually abused children and said the Roman Catholic Church must do more to rectify the damage and punish the offenders.
"I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," Francis said Friday in a statement posted to the website of Vatican Radio.
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"We will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger."
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