The Vatican quoted Francis as expressing personal ’sorrow‘ in his homily at a private Mass with six victims for the ’sins and grave crimes‘ of clerical sex abuse against them. One victim, 43-year-old Mary Kane of Dublin, told The Irish Times, ‘He seemed genuinely frustrated at what he was hearing … There was a lot of empathy.’
Pope Francis donned the mantle of shame Monday and personally begged forgiveness from six Catholics who were preyed on by pedophile priests.
“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse against you,” the pontiff pleaded. “And I humbly ask forgiveness.”
Francis also promised to punish bishops who protected the predators.
“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,” he said.
One of the victims, 43-year-old Mary Kane of Dublin, responded to the remarkably personal papal apology by urging him to fire Ireland’s top Catholic clergyman.
The “cover-up is still happening and you have the power to make these changes,” Kane told The Irish Times about what she said to the pontiff.
Kane said she pressed Francis to remove Cardinal Seán Brady as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland for squashing the investigation into perv priest Father Brendan Smyth.
“It is difficult to make these changes,” Francis replied, according to Kane’s account to The Irish Times. “But it’s a big thing with me that Seán Brady is gone.”
Kane, who was molested by a priest from three years while a teenager, told the paper that Francis was “very, very humble.”
“He seemed genuinely frustrated at what he was hearing,” she said. “There was a lot of empathy. There was no looking at watches.”
There was no official confirmation of Kane’s account from The Vatican.
But there have been repeated calls for Brady to step down following revelations that he swore two accusing boys to secrecy in 1975 and looked the other way while Smyth continued to abuse children for two more decades until he was jailed in Belfast.
Brady’s days are numbered as it is. He is required to submit his resignation when he turns 75 in August and Francis is expected to accept it immediately.
In addition to Kane, Francis met with another Irish victim and two victims each from Britain and Germany.
While the pope has been praised for his strong stand against abusive priests and for reaching out to victims, advocacy group remain deeply suspicious of the Vatican.
Norbert Denef, who serves as a spokesman from a German survivor advocacy group — and was not among those who met with Francis — dismissed the papal outreach as “nothing more than a PR event.