VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is insisting that pedophiles who abuse children be severely punished.
Speaking to faithful in St. Peter's Square Sunday, he greeted an Italian organization dedicated to fighting child abuse.
Calling pedophilia a "tragedy," Francis says "we mustn't tolerate abuses on minors." He adds "we must defend minors and severely punish the abusers."
Francis didn't mention pedophile scandals in the Catholic church in which bishops systematically transferred pedophile priests around parishes instead of reporting them to police. Victims' groups have demanded Francis punish such bishops.
Italians were recently shocked by the death of a 6-year-old near Naples thrown from the roof of an eight-story building after trying to resist her rapist. An autopsy showed she suffered chronic sexual abuse. Investigators suspect neighbors knew about the abuse but didn't tell police.