(NBC NEWS) Pope Francis sought forgiveness for the "evil" of priests who sexually abused children, addressing head-on an issue Friday that has dogged the Catholic Church for two decades.
"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," he said on Vatican Radio.
The pontiff added: "The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and 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. Because you cannot interfere with children."
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