He equally commended one survivor for telling his story.
In comments published in German tabloid Bild, the pope described Daniel Pittet’s memoir “Father, I Forgive You’’ as a testament to “how deeply embedded evil can be in the heart of a servant of the church.’’
Pittet was subjected to repeated rape and sexual abuse by a Capuchin friar as a child.
Today, he is a priest and campaigns against paedophilia in the Catholic Church.
The pontiff expressed his “love and pain’’ to families who had lost abused loved ones to suicide, asking them “with full humility for forgiveness.’’
“It is an absolute monstrosity, a terrible sin that contradicts everything the Church teaches,’’ he said.
Since the 1990s the Catholic Church has been hit by repeated scandals in a number of countries over sexual abuse by priests.
In many cases the church was accused of covering up such offences.
Francis, who wrote the foreword to Pittet’s book, pledged “zero tolerance’’ for sexual abuse cases in the church.