Pope Francis insisted on zero tolerance against abuse and explained how bishops should investigate complaints. The key, he said, is to be close to the victims.
In a letter sent to the presidents of episcopal conferences and superiors of religious orders, Francis wrote, "Pastors and those in charge of religious communities should be available to meet with victims and their loved ones; such meetings are valuable opportunities for listening to those who have greatly suffered and for asking their forgiveness.”
Francis said that families have the right to communicate their concerns to the Church "because it is quote a safe place.” He added that they must not hide complaints.
"Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors,” wrote the Pope.
He asked them for "generosity and rigor,” and said it they had a"duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices.”
The letter notes that the episcopal conferences must submit to the Vatican guidelines for action against abuse, and asks them to cooperate with the Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors.