"How can someone who devoted their life to lead children to God, end up instead to devour them in what I called 'a diabolical sacrifice' that destroys both the victim and the life of the Church?"
Francis noted that some victims of abuse have committed suicide. "These deaths weigh on my heart, on my conscience and that of the whole Church," he said, and, addressing their families, said "I offer my feelings of love and pain and humbly, I ask forgiveness."
Clerical sex abuse "is an absolute monstrosity, a horrible sin, radically against everything that Christ has taught us," the Pope said, and pointed to his June 4, 2016, motu proprio "Like a loving mother."
In the document, in which the Pope deemed that negligence on the part of a bishop in handling cases of abuse is enough to oust him from office, it was stressed that the Church "must take care and protect with special love the weak and the helpless" with the tenderness of a mother.
"We have stated that it is our duty to be extremely strict with the priests who betray their mission, and with their hierarchy, bishops or cardinals, who might protect them, as has happened in the past," Francis saod.
However, the Pope noted that despite the various trials Pittet endured as a child, he also "met another face of the Church, and this allowed him to not lose hope in men and in God."
"(Pittet) tells us of the power of prayer that he has never abandoned, and that has comforted him in the darkest hours," he said, pointing to the fact that the author chose to meet his "tormentor" 44 years later, wanting "to look into the eyes of the man who has hurt him in the depths of his soul."
Instead of condemning the friar, Pittet "lent him his hand," Francis said, noting that "the wounded child is now a standing man, fragile but standing."
Pointing to a line written by Pittet in the book, the Pope said he was impressed by the author's declaration that "many people fail to understand the fact that I do not hate him. I have forgiven him and I built my life on that forgiveness."
Francis closed his preface saying that he prays for Pittet and "for all those who, like him, were wounded in their innocence, may God lift them and heal them, and give us all his forgiveness and mercy."