Spokesman Greg Burke has reported that Pope Francis wept bitterly as he met with victims of child molestation and abuse by priests in Chile on Tuesday.
The private meeting took place during a packed first day of the pontiff’s week long trip to South America where he will also visit Peru.
Greg Burke said, ‘No one else was present. Only the Pope and the victims, ‘This was so they could speak of their suffering to Pope Francis, who listened to them and prayed and cried with them.’
It was only the second time on his overseas trips that the Pope has met victims of sexual abuse, although he has met some at the Vatican. The last meeting on a trip was in Philadelphia in 2015.
Burke declined to give details, but his statement came at the end of an intense day for the pope, during which he spoke of sexual abuse twice, once asking forgiveness for abuses he said had done “irreparable damage” to victims.
During his first public address of the tour Francis begged forgiveness and said he feels ‘pain and shame’ over the sex abuse scandal.
Pope Francis is facing protests as he travels around Chile over his appointment as Bishop of Osorno of Juan Barros, who is accused of covering up the abuse of the notorious paedophile priest Fernando Karadima.