Pope Francis today acknowledged that sexual abuse scandals all over the world are driving people away from the Catholic Church.
Francis referred directly to the crisis convulsing his papacy on the fourth and final day of his Baltic pilgrimage, which coincided with the release of a devastating new report into decades of sex abuse and cover-up in Germany. Francis told a gathering of young people in Estonia, considered one of the least religious countries in the world, that he knew many young people felt the church had nothing to offer them and simply doesn’t understand their problems today.
It was a very public admission of the church’s failures in confronting sex abuse scandals, which have roared back to the headlines recently with revelations of abuse and cover-up in the U.S., Chilean and now German church. The German bishops conference on Tuesday was releasing a report that found that some 3,677 people — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys — were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014.