The Head of the Catholic Church has likened the abuse of children by priests to “like celebrating a black Mass”.
Speaking during a press conference aboard his plane, he revealed three bishops are currently under investigation over allegations of child abuse and one has already been convicted.
In comments reported by La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, he said: “When a priest commits abuse, he betrays the Lord’s body. A priest must guide children to sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her.
“… A zero tolerance needs to be adopted with regards to this issue.”
He added the inquiries were proof there would be no “daddy’s boys” in the clergy who enjoyed special privileges on his watch.
He also announced he would meet with a group of between six and eight sex abuse victims in June, the Catholic Herald reports.
The victims are from various countries, including Germany, England and Ireland, and they are expected to participate in a private Mass with him in the Vatican guesthouse.
In April Pope Francis issued an apology for clerical sex abuses against children, saying: “I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests – large in number, but not in proportion to the total – have committed and to ask forgiveness for the damage they’ve done with the sexual abuse of children."
Pope Francis' Best Photos