Pope says church's attackers are linked to devil

  

  Pope says church's attackers are linked to devil

Pope Francis poses for a photo with a group of priests at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY  – Pope Francis says that those who are constantly attacking the church are linked to the devil.

Francis on Wednesday told pilgrims from southern Italy that the church’s “defects” must be denounced in order to correct them.

But he said that those who do so without love and spend their lives “accusing” the church are either the devil’s friends or relatives.

Pope Francis spoke on the eve of a Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse and cover-ups by the church’s hierarchy.

Detractors, including a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, have accused him of not properly dealing with top prelates and priests who were suspected abusers.

Pope Francis didn’t cite specific accusations nor mention the summit in his remarks.

He told the pilgrims that the Bible calls the devil the “great accuser.”

He added that “we are all sinners, some big” sinners.

  Pope says church's attackers are linked to devil

Members of the choir of St. Anthony High School from New York show a banner reading “up with Pope Francis” during the general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis is summoning church leaders from around the world this week for a tutorial on how to deal with cases of sex abuse by clergy.

Many Catholic church leaders around the world continue to protect the church’s reputation by denying that priests rape children and by discrediting victims, and the pope himself admits to having made similar mistakes.

But the pope has done an about-face and is bringing the rest of the church leadership along with him at the extraordinary summit starting Thursday.

The meeting will bring together some 190 presidents of bishops’ conferences, religious orders and Vatican offices lectures and workshops on preventing sex abuse in their churches, tending to victims, and investigating abuse.

Survivors will be meeting with summit organizers and the bishops themselves ahead of the summit. / gsg

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