ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE - Pope Francis said Sunday that the Catholic church was working "as best we can" to fight clerical child abuse but admitted there were shortfalls.
During a press conference on a plane while returning from Bahrain, where he had been promoting dialogue with Islam, the pontiff said child abuse inside the Church was a "tragic thing."
"We are working as best we can, but there are people within the Church who don't see it clearly", the 85-year-old Argentinian admitted on the return flight to Rome.
"It is an ongoing process that we are carrying out with courage," he added.
The abuse scandal erupted in the second half of the 1980s, sparking an avalanche of allegations about paedophile priests around the world, from Australia to Chile, France and the United States.
Pope Francis has insisted the Church will adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to abuse, but critics say many countries have yet to seriously confront the issue.
While before "some things were hidden", the pope insisted Sunday that now "everything is clear and we are moving forward."
"The Church must be ashamed of the bad things, while thanking God for the good things."
Francis used his four-day visit to Muslim-majority Bahrain to meet both senior Muslim officials and Catholic residents of the Gulf.
© Agence France-Presse