Catholics in our area are responding to the shockingly harsh words from the leader of the Catholic Church who spoke out Friday about priests who sexually abuse children.
Pope Francis called those crimes "evil" and he is asking his faithful to personally forgive him for those acts.
At Saint John the Baptist Church in Larksville, Catholics gathered for a performance of the Passion play.
As the faithful are coming to the end of this Lenten season, the coming of Easter is a reminder to ask for forgiveness.
Now it is the leader of the Catholic Church who is asking forgiveness as well.
Pope Francis spoke out recently, condemning priests who abuse children.
Calling the crimes “evil,” the pope says he is “personally asking for forgiveness for the damage they have done.”
“Someone needs to take a firm stance against the wrongs that go on and he's the man to do it,” said Susan Banos from Mountain Top. “He speaks to our children and making an example.”
This harsh message comes a week after the arrest of a priest in the Diocese of Scranton.
Father Phil Altavillia, the pastor of Saint Peter's Cathedral in Scranton, the flagship church in the diocese, was charged with sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl back in 1998.
“It's a terrible epidemic and it's really something that we all have to own in order to be able to begin to heal and begin to heal those who are the victims,” said Judy Howe from Luzerne.
The pope went even further, pledging to impose penalties on “men of the church” who harm children, even punishing bishops who have been “complicit” in these crimes.
“Pope Francis is trying to set an example for all of us that we all have to own the evil in our lives and the evil we experience,” said Howe.
“The world today is real tough and I think everybody should do a little asking of forgiveness,” said Joe Rasmovicz from Larksville.