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While speaking to the organization, the International Catholic Child Bureau, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the child abuse scandal at the hands of priest that has rocked the church and devastated victims around the world. He was quoted on Vatican Radio saying,

I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests—quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests—to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children.

Though they are some of the most strong words used by the Pope when addressing the priest abuse, some groups say that without more action, the apology is not enough. The group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has told CNN and The Daily Beast that they believe that the Vatican—and a commission started by Pope Francis to address the abuse—could be doing more to prevent on-going abuse, improve transparency and punish those responsible ... Discuss

 

Evidently, Russell Crowe’s passionate Twitter request to meet with Pope Francis and screen his new biblical blockbuster almost worked. Variety is reporting that director Darren Aronofsky and star Russell Crowe were scheduled to meet with the pope for a photo-op, but it was called off by the Vatican at the last minute. According to the entertainment industry magazine, “The meeting was tentatively on the calendar for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the VIP section so the pope could figuratively lend a blessing to the $125 million biblical epic. The reason the Vatican cancelled it, according to a source, is over concerns word would leak, causing a spectacle as Crowe and Aronofsky landed in Rome.” So far, among faith leaders who’ve watched pre-screenings, the film’s biblical message has received some positive reviews ... Discuss

 

Reforming the Vatican is a lot of work, so it’s no wonder Pope Francis has decided to spend his summer working in Rome instead of visiting the traditional papal summer house. But just because he isn’t going to enjoy Castel Gandolfo’s opulent seaside gardens—where popes and emperors have walked since the 1500s—doesn’t mean the beauty shouldn’t be shared. He’s ordered that the gardens (pictured below) now be opened to the public. Visitors can enjoy the historic terraces and expertly maintained gardens and farms each morning through guided tours ... Discuss

 

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has released a scathing report—originally commissioned by Pope Francis—which criticized the Vatican for not taking “the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children.” The report said that Catholic Church leaders have “not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed … and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.” The UNCRC said that the church must “immediately remove” priests who have abused children, saying, "dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children." In a response, The Vatican—which seemed surprised by the committee’s harsh tone—criticized the UNCRC for also taking issue with the church’s position on homosexuality and abortion. Though the U.N. does not have power to regulate the Vatican, it has asked the church to implement specified recommendations within the report by 2017 ... Discuss

 

The latest rock star to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine is … Pope Francis? Being featured on the cover of the iconic music and culture magazine is the latest indication of just how popular the Catholic Church’s new leader has become—among followers and non-Catholics alike. You can read the entire 8,000-word piece on how “The times, they are a-changin’” at the Vatican, why he’s connected with new audience and how the rapid rise of Pope Francis took place, on their website ... Discuss

 

Pope Francis may be one of the most well-known people in the world, but that hasn’t prevented him from taking time to minister to those living on the streets. In an interview, a top Vatican archbishop dodged the question as to whether the pope would disguise himself and join in giving alms to the poor in the evenings, saying, “When I say to him ‘I’m going out into the city this evening’, there’s the constant risk that he will come with me.” The Vatican’s Swiss Guards later confirmed to The Huffington Post that “the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women." It wouldn’t be the first time he’s temporarily left his post to minister to the poor. When he was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he was known to leave during the evenings to bring meals to the homeless. Don’t worry. The pope is safe on the streets at night. He is, after all, a former bouncer ... Discuss