Pope Francis says church’s attackers linked to devil…”Accusers are devils friends or relatives”



VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on the Vatican summit on dealing with sex abuse of minors (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

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@Pontifex

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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.

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.

11:20 a.m.

The author of an explosive book on gays in the Vatican says the culture of secrecy that has hidden the double lives of clergy is intrinsically linked to the culture of cover-up about sexual abuse of minors.

Frederic Martel, a French gay rights activist and author of “In the Closet of the Vatican,” told a news conference Wednesday that studies have long shown that being gay is not a risk factor for committing sexual abuse.

But he said the culture of secrecy about priests’ homosexuality had contributed to the abuse scandal.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Association, Martel said: “The problem is that some abusers that commit crimes within the church were protected by this culture of secrecy that was mainly to protect homosexuality.”

Martel’s book comes out Thursday as Pope Francis opens a Vatican summit on preventing sexual abuse.

9:50 a.m.

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.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org group, holds up a photo of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Houston-Galveston and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a press conference at the foreign press association in Rome, Tuesday Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

But Francis 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.

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