Pope urges sexual predators within the church to turn themselves in

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By Claudio Lavanga

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Friday pleaded with sexual abusers within the Roman Catholic Church to surrender to authority, in his most harsh words yet about the decades-long scandal.

“To those who abuse minors I would say this: Convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” the pontiff said his traditional Christmas address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration.

In “human justice,” it wasn’t immediately clear if Francis was referring to the church’s own judicial system, secular authority or both.

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