Pope Francis expressed his "great sorrow" for the victims of sexual abuse by French Catholic clergy after the publication on Tuesday of a devastating report, a Vatican spokesman said.
The spokesman said the pontiff had learned "with pain" of the "appalling" results of an independent investigation, which found French Catholic clergy had sexually abused some 216,000 minors in the seven decades since 1950 -- and covered it up with a "veil of silence".
"His thoughts turn first to the victims, with great sorrow for their wounds and gratitude for their courage in speaking out," spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement issued in Italian and French.
"They also turn towards the Church in France so that, having become aware of this appalling reality and... it may undertake the path of redemption."
The pope offered his prayers for all the Church's followers in France, particularly the victims of abuse, so that God grant them comfort, consolation and "with justice, the miracle of healing".
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