Some were taken aback by Pope Francis’ description of a pedophile as “children of God” deserving of love and “pastoral care” as well as “enemies” who should also be punished, The Independent reported.
During a meeting with 32 Jesuits last month in Budapest, Hungary, Pope Francis voiced his consideration of offering “Christian love” to pedophile priests who were responsible for destroying both the lives of children and the reputation of the Catholic church.
“The Gospel asks us to love, but how do we love at the same time people who have experienced abuse and their abusers?” a Jesuit asked the pope per Yahoo. “God loves everyone. He loves them, too. But what about us?”
The Jesuit continued his question, “Without ever covering anything up, of course, how do we love abusers? I would like to offer the compassion and love that the Gospel asks for everyone, even the enemy. But how is this possible?”
“It is not easy at all,” the pope said. “Today we understand that the reality of abuse is very broad: there is sexual abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, migrant abuse. You refer to sexual abuse. How do we approach, how do we talk to the abusers for whom we feel revulsion? Yes, they too are children of God.”
He continued, “But how can you love them? It’s a powerful question. The abuser is to be condemned, indeed, but as a brother. Condemning him is to be understood as an act of charity. There is a logic, a form of loving the enemy that is also expressed in this way. And it is not easy to understand and to live out. The abuser is an enemy.”
“Each of us feels this because we empathize with the suffering of the abused,” pope added.
“When you hear what abuse leaves in the hearts of abused people, the impression you get is very powerful. Even talking to the abuser involves revulsion; it’s not easy.”
Pope Francis concluded, “But they are God’s children, too. They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care. How do we provide that? No, it is not easy. You are right.”
According to AbuseLawsuit.com, “the Roman Catholic Church is a major offender in the nationwide scandal of child sex abuse.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) documented 4,228 claims of sexual abuse against children in 2021. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2020, 3,924 victims of abuse submitted formal complaints. Over 2,700 individual clergy members from across the nation were involved in the incidents.
“The report found that only 22 of the allegations involve current cases. However, survivors with older cases are still seeking legal justice and accountability from responsible dioceses,” according to the outlet.