Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church will continue implementing measures against clerical sexual abuse, even if there may be reluctance or pushback or in some places.

In comments to Reuters published Friday, the pope said there was “resistance, but with each new step there is growing awareness that this is the way to go.”

Pope Francis said the “Church started zero tolerance slowly and moved forward. And I think the direction taken on this is irreversible.”

Speaking to Reuters on July 2, the 85-year-old said “I totally support the commission” in comments about the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Under the new Vatican constitution, this body, created by Pope Francis in 2014, is “established within the dicastery” previously known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis praised its president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, as well as its secretary, Father Andrew Small, according to Reuters. 

The pope asked the commission in late April 2022 to produce an annual report on what the Catholic Church is doing around the world to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. In a speech at the event, Francis underlined that “abuse in any form is unacceptable.”

The pope has also urged the commission to assist bishops’ conferences in establishing centers where people who have experienced abuse can find “acceptance and an attentive hearing, and be accompanied in a process of healing and justice, as indicated in the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.”

Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) was issued by the pope following the Vatican’s abuse summit in 2019 after the Theodore McCarrick scandal became public.

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The legislation presented a canonical plan to address the investigation of bishops accused of sexual abuse or coercion, or of interfering in the investigation of such conduct.