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Pope insists church must have ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual assault

The Catholic Church must treat cases of sexual assault with a policy of “zero tolerance”, reaffirmed Pope Francis, who called sexual abuse “monstrosity”, during an interview with a Portuguese broadcaster.

“One very clear thing is zero tolerance. Zero. A priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser. He cannot because he is sick or he is a criminal,” the pope declared during the interview with TVI/CNN Portugal, excerpts of which were published on the channel’s website.

“It’s an eyesore,” added the pontiff.

The interview will be broadcast in two parts, one this Sunday (4) and another tomorrow night.

In Portugal, at the beginning of the year, work began on an independent commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The commission, created on the initiative of the church itself, has already collected about 400 testimonies, of which 17 have been sent to justice, said Pedro Stretch, a child psychiatrist who heads this work group, which plans to publish its conclusions by the end of the year.

“I do not deny abuse. Even if it was just one, it’s monstrous,” Francis admitted in the interview.

Furthermore, the pontiff stated that he intends to visit Portugal during the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD), a world meeting of young Catholics that will take place in the first week of August next year.

“I intend to go. Daddy goes. Be it Francis or be it John XXIV, but the pope will,” he said.

WYD was scheduled for early August this year, but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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