The Catholic Church must treat sexual assault cases with “zero tolerance” reaffirmed Pope Francis, who called them a “monstrosity,” according to excerpts from an interview with a Portuguese television channel.
“It’s very clear. It’s zero tolerance. A priest cannot continue to be a priest if he is an aggressor. He cannot because he is either sick or a criminal,” the Pope said in this interview with TVI / CNN Portugal, excerpts of which were published on the channel’s website.
“It is monstrous, because it destroys lives,” he added in the two-part interview, which will be broadcast Sunday and Monday night.
Like France, an independent commission, which began work earlier this year, is investigating sexual assaults within the church in Portugal, a country with a strong Catholic tradition.
The commission, created at the initiative of the Church, has already collected some 400 testimonies, 17 of which have been communicated to the justice system, Pedro Stretch, the child psychiatrist who heads the working group, said recently.
“I don’t deny abuse. One abuse would already be monstrous,” the Pope acknowledged in this interview on Portuguese television.
The pope also said that he plans to visit Portugal during the next World Youth Day, a global meeting of young Catholics that will take place from August 1 to 6, 2023.
“I am thinking of going there. In any case, the Pope will go,” he said.
Originally scheduled for August 2022, the WYD was postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.