LISBON: The Catholic Church must show “zero tolerance” in the face of sexual assault by members of the clergy, Pope Francis said in excerpts from an interview with a Portuguese television channel broadcast Sunday, September 4.
“It’s very clear. It’s zero tolerance,” he told TVI/CNN Portugal in an interview, excerpts of which were published on the channel’s website.
“A priest cannot continue to be a priest if he is an aggressor. He cannot because he is either sick or criminal,” he said.
“It’s monstrous because it destroys lives,” he added, during the two-part interview which will air on Sunday and Monday.
An independent investigation into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Portugal has so far collected testimonies from around 400 people, said the man leading the investigation, child psychiatrist Pedro Stretch.
As a result, 17 cases were sent to court. The conclusions of the investigation are expected by the end of the year.
“I don’t deny the abuses,” the pope said. “A single abuse would already be monstrous.”
He said he hoped to travel to Portugal in August next year for World Youth Days, a gathering of young Catholics.
“I think I will go. In any case, the pope will go,” he said.
The pontiff has spoken of the possibility of retiring due to his declining health.