Pope Francis said on Friday that no-one in the Catholic Church would avoid punishment if found guilty of child sexual abuse.
Francis told the Roman Curia in a traditional pre-Christmas address to the Vatican hierarchy.
“Let it be clear that before these abominations the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice, whoever has committed such crimes,” Francis said.
“To those, who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” the pontiff added.
“The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case,” he said, and past cases of negligence or cover-up when dealing with child abuse allegations “must never happen again.”
The warning was delivered as a senior Church figure, Cardinal George Pell, is facing historical child sexual abuse charges in Australia.
Pell was until 2017 the head of the Secretariat for the Economy, a position that unofficially made him the third highest-ranking official within the Vatican.
The Australian cardinal is the most senior Catholic official to face sexual abuse accusations, and he has taken a leave of absence from his post to defend himself.
In February, when the Vatican will host a global bishops’ summit on the child abuse crisis, “the Church will restate her firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification,” Francis said. (dpa/NAN)