From BBC US & Canada
|Pope Francis met with prisoners in a Philadelphia jail|
The group - three women and two men - had been abused by clergy, family members or teachers, Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement. Each was accompanied by a family member, he added.
The Pope told the survivors, an unknown number of whom had been abused by priests, that clergy and bishops would be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.
Many abuse survivors are angry at how the Vatican has dealt with allegations.
The Roman Catholic Church in the US has been embroiled in child sex scandals.
US dioceses have made huge compensation payouts to victims.
The Pope was "overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm," he told bishops following the meeting, on the final day of his visit to the US.
He told the victims who were abused by a member of the clergy that he was "deeply sorry" for the times when the abuse was reported, but victims or their families "were not heard or believed," the Vatican said in a statement.
"Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you," Pope Francis told the survivors.
|Lupe Cantu, of McAllen Valley, Texas, hangs rosary beads on a barricade along |
Benjamin Franklin Parkway as she waits for Mass delivered by Pope Francis,
Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Philadelphia (AP)
The Pope "renewed his commitment" to ensure that victims are treated with justice, the guilty are punished, and to effective prevention in the Church and in society, the statement said.
But survivors' advocacy groups expressed some scepticism at whether the Pope's words would lead to any change.
|Pope Francis greets seminarians at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in |
Philadelphia (September 27, 2015) Reuters
John Salveson, President of the Pennsylvania-based Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, said:
"The truth is that the survivor community has been asking the Church to take several simple steps to protect children and hold perpetrators and enablers accountable for years, but the Church has refused to take these actions.
"If Pope Francis wishes to take effective action to back up his words he could take these steps immediately."
In June the Pope approved the creation of a tribunal to hear cases of bishops accused of covering up child abuse by paedophile priests.
|Members of the St. Anthony of Padua Church walk over the Benjamin Franklin |
Bridge towards Philadelphia ahead of a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis AP
Last year, the UN strongly criticised the Church for failing to stamp out abuse and for allowing cover-ups.
The Pope's trip to the USA has certainly affected the country. Other than the Speaker's resignation, we will not really know how profoundly it affected America for some time.
One can't help but be impressed at how much more Christ-like Francis is than his predecessors. One wonders whether his popularity will draw people from the evangelical church toward Catholicism, for so many in the evangelical church are such a long way from being Christ-like.