Updated 10:12 AM EST, Mon, Dec 06, 2021

Pope Francis Promises 'Accountability' From Catholic Bishops for Sexual Abuse by Clergy

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Pope Francis met with six victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic church on Monday, during which he begged their forgiveness, while telling them that bishops "will be held accountable" for their actions.

Monday was the first meeting Pope Francis has had with victims of Catholic priest sexual abuse, and his words were meant as solace for the pain they endured at the hands of the clergy.

"I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves," Francis said, according to a text of the statement provided by the Vatican.

Although meeting with sexual abuse victims is a start to addressing the pervasive issues with sexual abuse in the church, some groups are not convinced by the Pope's words.

"Let's not mistake this meeting today for real action," SNAP President Barbara Blaine told reporters at CNN. "The meeting today will not make children safer."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is an organization that advocates for sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church.

The organization has been increasingly critical that Pope Francis has yet to take serious action against sexual abuse by clergy members.

"I think that Pope Francis has yet to take strong action that will protect children and he could do that by firing the bishops who have been complicit and who are transferring predators," said Blaine.

Pope Francis' intentions for holding the private mass were to emphasize that bishops need to cooperate with reporting sexual abuse crimes to the proper authorities, as the law requires. The Catholic Church has been accused numerous times of covering up or transferring abusive clergymen instead of reporting the abuse.

"Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction," said Francis. "Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships."

It is yet to be seen whether Pope Francis' pleas will be taken to heart by the church. 

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