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Pope orders bishops to have zero tolerance for sexual abuse

(Reuters/Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe/Handout)Pope Francis addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg November 25, 2014.

Pope Francis called on bishops to follow the policy of having zero tolerance for clergymen who sexually abuse children.

In a letter that was made public on Monday but sent out to Bishops on Dec. 28, the feast of the Holly Innocents, the pope commented on abuse of children by priests, along with other injustices suffered by minors such as child labor, malnutrition, lack of access to education and sexual exploitation in general.

He wrote, "I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst." According to the pope, the church acknowledges the sufferings of children who were sexually abused by priests, describing the act as "a sin that shames us all."

Pope Francis has received mixed reactions to how the Vatican has dealt with sexual abuse under his leadership. Some of the steps that he has taken to help eradicate sexual abuse in the Catholic church include the issuance of a papal decree that formed a Vatican tribunal that will try bishops accused of negligence in handling sexual abuse. The new approach took effect in September 2016.

He also set up a Vatican commission that would advise local parishes on how to prevent sexual abuse by clergymen.

Some, however, have misgivings over his appointment of a Chilean bishop who allegedly protected a known pedophile, as well as over the Vatican's slow response to the case of the deaf students from Italy who wrote to the Pope in 2014 that they had been sexually abused by a priest for years.

For decades, the Roman Catholic Church has been plagued with scandals over priests who commit lewd sexual acts on children. Unfortunately, a lot of these priests were merely moved from parish to parish instead of being reported to authorities and being defrocked.

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