Pope Francis to meet with sex abuse victims, condemns the crimes against them
Pope Francis announced Monday that he would meet with six victims of Catholic priest sexual abuse, and that three bishops are currently under investigation for sex abuse crimes.
Francis said the meeting with the victims will be held at the Vatican in the near future, and did not specify whether the bishops had abused the children themselves or had covered up the crimes of others.
The Pope made the revelations on a flight with journalists from the Middle East to Rome after visiting Israel, Jordan, and the West bank this weekend.
He condemned the abuse of children, and made clear that his papacy will not cover up the horrific crimes.
"There are no privileges," he said, according to the Associated Press. "On this issue we must go forward. Zero tolerance."
He also expressed great respect for Pope Benedict XVI, who was the first pontiff to resign since the year 1415. Pope Francis, 77, said that the Pope Emeritus "opened a door" for others who may feel overwhelmed by papal duties.
"We need to look at him as an institution: he opened a door, the door of emeritus popes," he said.
"Only God knows if there will be others, but the door is open."
He did not rule out the possibility that he too may eventually become unable to fulfill his responsibilities.
"If and when the time comes," Francis said, "I will do what the Lord tells me to do, pray and try to find God's will. But I think that Benedict XVI wasn't a unique case."
The Pope also addressed rumors that his meeting next month with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to engage in peace talks.
"We are coming just to pray, then everyone goes home," Francis told the reporters. "But I think prayer is important, praying together."