Pope Francis has described child sexual abuse as a kind of “psychological murder.”
He said that the acts are committed, for example, in schools, sports and recreational facilities and religious communities, as well as by individuals.
The Catholic Church leader said at the Vatican on Saturday that the act must be consistently uncovered.
“Child abuse is a kind of ‘psychological murder’ and in many cases a cancellation of childhood,” Francis warned.
The Pope made his remarks at an audience for members of the Italian anti-abuse association called Meter.
Protecting children from sexual exploitation is a duty of all states, he said.
They must prosecute and punish both traffickers and perpetrators of abuse, Francis said.
The 84-year-old criticized the advertising of child pornography that takes place via the internet and various social media.
The Catholic Church itself has also been repeatedly criticized for covering up cases of child abuse within its own ranks.
It faces repeated accusations that those high up in the church do not deal with allegations quickly enough.(dpa/NAN)