ROME, ITALY - Pope Francis has compared the sexual abuse of children to human sacrifice.
"I am reminded of the cruel religious practice, once widespread in certain cultures, of sacrificing human beings - frequently children - in pagan rites," Francis said Sunday.
He was speaking at the close of the summit of the church's top bishops and leaders, called to design a plan on how to deal with the predatory priests who have sexually abused children and adults for decades.
AFP, the French news agency, reports that the bishops were given a "roadmap" on how to stop the predatory priests that included "drawing up mandatory codes of conduct for priests, training people to spot abuse, and informing police."
Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference warned the gathered Catholic clergy and leaders that "We do not have forever, and we dare not fail" as they go back to their dioceses and navigate dealing with reports of abuse.
"We have shown too little mercy," Coleridge warned, "and therefore we will receive the same."
Worldwide sexual abuse by priests
The reports of worldwide sexual abuse by priests have rocked the Roman Catholic Church.
"We will do all in our power to make sure that the horrors of the past are not repeated," Coleridge said.
On Saturday, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in an extraordinary admission, said that "files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created."
Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian nun, addressed the group Saturday: "We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church. We pause to pray, Lord have mercy on us."
She told the summit; "Too often we want to keep silent until the storm has passed. This storm will not pass by. Our credibility is at stake."