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Pope says he 'shares pain' of wrongly accused priests

False claims of child prostitution ring hurt many, says Francis

06 March, 12:38
Pope says he 'shares pain' of wrongly accused priests (Updates previous) (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 6 - Pope Francis told a group of Rome priests Thursday that he "shared the pain" of priests suffering "unjust wounds" caused by allegations against some of them. "Lots of people have been injured, by material problems, by scandals, including in the Church," the pope said during a meeting with priests inside the Vatican.

He was referring to an incident in March 2013 when former priest Patrizio Poggi was convicted and sent to prison for five years for pedophilia, and also denounced other priests, saying they were involved in a child prostitution ring.

Police later said his claims were unfounded and Poggi was charged with aggravated slander. According to police, his accusations were driven by "resentment tied to personal reasons".

The pope said the case hurt many in the Church.

"I shared the pain of some of you, of the entire priesthood, for the accusations made against a group of you," Francis told the meeting.

"I have talked to some of you who have been accused and saw the pain of these unjust wounds, (this) madness, and I want to say publicly that I am close to (you)," he said.

Francis said he also apologized on behalf of the Church because the false accusations came from within its ranks His comments come following an interview published Wednesday, in which Pope Francis defended the Church's response to a long series of scandals about child sex abuse by clergymen.

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