PHILADELPHIA (WHTM) – As seminarians waited for Pope Francis to emerge at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, he was meeting with five victims of sexual abuse – three women and two men – for a half hour.
He then addressed bishops with a strong rebuke, saying he’s “overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm.”
“I am profoundly sorry,” he said. “God weeps.”
Francis also promised to hold abusers accountable.
He then went to a Philadelphia correctional facility. Inmates made him a chair by hand.
He’s the first pope to address prisoners in the U.S.
“I know it is a painful time, not only for you but for your families and for all of society,” he said through a translator.
He said it’s everyone’s job to rehabilitate the incarcerated, and the suggestion that people can’t change is a lie.
“All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed,” he said. “All of us, and me in first place.”
It’s been a whirlwind tour for the Holy Father. He didn’t just visit the U.S., he left his mark with powerful policy speeches to Congress, the United nations and in Philadelphia. His words were well received, but Francis knows his trip will only be successful if those words spur action.
“I’m hoping at some point when there’s a real collision in a hearing or a negotiation on the budget in the next couple years, someone can stand up,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. Said. “And I’ll have the chance to do this and say, ‘hey guys, you remember what the pope said. Let’s cooperate for the common good.’ ”