Pope Francis expressed his shame over the sexual abuse of children by French Catholic clergy, after the scale of the problem came to light in a devastating report.
“There is, unfortunately, a considerable number,” he said during his weekly audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“I wish to express to the victims my sadness and pain for the trauma they have suffered,” he added..
“And also my shame for the inability of the Church to put them at the centre of its concerns.
“I pray and we all pray together — to you Lord the glory, to us the shame. This is the time for shame.”
Francis urged all bishops to take action and Catholics to work towards ensuring that the church is “a safe place”.
An independent commission on Tuesday revealed that French Catholic clergy sexually abused around 216,000 minors over seven decades since 1950.
The commission’s two-and-a-half-year inquiry and 2,500-page report prompted outrage as the Catholic Church in France and around the world faces a growing number of abuse claims and prosecutions.
Dealing with the avalanche of revelations about sexual abuse by clergy was one of the biggest challenges that Francis faced when he was elected pope in 2013.