Pope Francis celebrates a Mass attended by the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world on the last day of the four-day meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 24. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The time has come for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth, Pope Francis said, closing a global four-day summit on child protection in the Catholic Church.

For quite some time, the world has been aware of the “serious scandal” the abuse of minors by clergy has brought to the church and public opinion, both because of the dramatic suffering it has caused victims and because of the “unjustifiable negligence” and “cover-up” by leaders in the church, he told people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Since the problem is present on every continent, the pope said he called leaders of the world’s bishops and religious superiors to Rome because “I wanted us to face it together in a co-responsible and collegial way,” he said after praying the Angelus Feb. 24.

“We listened to the voice of victims, we prayed and asked for forgiveness from God and the people hurt, we took stock of our responsibility, and our duty to bring justice through truth and to radically reject every form” of sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience, he said.

“We want every activity and every place in the church to be completely safe for minors,” he said, which means taking every possible measure so that such crimes never happen again.

You can read Pope Francis’ complete addresses from the meeting here:

“The Protection of Minors in the Church:” Address of His Holiness at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration (24 February 2019).

“The Protection of Minors in the Church:”  Introduction of His Holiness
Thursday, 21 February 2019