Supreme leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, on Thursday vowed that priests who were indicted in cases of sexual indecency against children would no longer be given a right of appeal against being kicked out of the Church.
Pope Francis, who added that he would never pardon any of such priests, said he had learned his lesson after allowing an Italian Bishop to not defrock a priest who had been found guilty of acts of abuse, and who then committed similar offences two years later.
The Catholic Pontiff said this while addressing his child abuse advisory panel at the Vatican.
Francis also acknowledged that the Church had been slow to wake up to the scale of the problem of clerical abuse, which has done enormous damage to its standing in many countries.
He said, “The abuse of a minor, if it is proven, is sufficient for there to be no possibility of appeal. If the proof is there, the punishment is definitive.
“And as for requests for papal pardons, I will not sign anything for these crimes.
“The means of resolving the problem are also arriving a bit late.
“That is the reality, the old practice of moving (paedophile priests) from one diocese to the other put people’s conscience to sleep.”
Francis has repeatedly vowed to rid the church of the scourge of paedophilia through a zero-tolerance approach which his predecessors proved incapable of implementing.
But his credibility on the issue has been hit by the resignation of two members of his advisory panel over opposition to changes from within the Vatican hierarchy.
Victims’ organisations also maintain that the church remains reluctant to hand paedophile priests over to criminal justice authorities.