No date for Pope meeting with abuse victims: Vatican spokesman

No date for Pope meeting with abuse victims: Vatican spokesman
Pope Francis waves as he leaves with Archbishop Georg Ganswein after his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.

ROME - No date has been set for Pope Francis' planned meeting with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, originally expected to take place early next month, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday.

The pope said this week that he would meet a group of sex abuse victims early in June after he compared child abuse with a "satanic mass".

However in an interview with Vatican Radio, Lombardi said there had been a "slight confusion" and no date had been set for the meeting, which would be the first for the pope since he took office just over a year ago.

He said the pope's characterisation of child sexual abuse by priests was "an incredible condemnation for a believer, perhaps the most severe condemnation which can be made".

"A satanic mass is sacrilege, it is when the body of Christ is used in order to be insulted," he said.

"It is a crime, from the point of view of our faith and our manner of regarding the sacraments of the eucharist, an absolutely grave crime, it is contempt for the dignity of the body of Christ."

Speaking to reporters as he returned from a trip to the Middle East, Francis said there would be "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse in the clergy.

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