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PHOTO: Vatican TV
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On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart".
During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven.
Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer.
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
PHOTO: Reuters
On Sunday (April 15) Pope Francis comforted a child who lost his father during a visit to a poor district of Rome, saying God has a "dad's heart". During a meeting Francis answered questions from children and one of them, Emanuele, was too shy to speak at the microphone so the pontiff decided to invite him onto stage. The child started crying and hugged Francis and whispered his question into the pope's ears, saying he was afraid that his father, who was an atheist, could not go to heaven. Francis comforted Emanuele and said that it is God who decides who goes to heaven and that, since God has a 'dad's heart', he will not abandon the boy's dad, even if he was not a believer. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics visited the parish of St. Paul of the Cross in Rome's Corviale neighbourhood and met with children of the poor district of the Italian capital and celebrated Mass for the parish community.
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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 29:  Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem, where he was put to death. It marks the official beginning of Holy Week during which Christians observe the death of Christ before celebrations begin on Easter.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

Pope Francis said Wednesday that his recent meeting in Ireland with eight people who suffered sex abuse by figures in the Catholic Church left a “profound mark” on him, but suggested that the right measures were being put in place to ensure such abuse cannot happen again.

Addressing the child sex abuse scandal in Ireland at his weekly Vatican address, the Pope said he had “begged the Lord for forgiveness for these sins, the scandal and the sense of betrayal.”

His words came in the midst of a renewed wave of outrage regarding child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and just three days after a visit to Ireland – a majority Catholic country – where he was met with protesters angry about the scandal and a smaller crowd of supporters than expected.

“My visit to Ireland, despite the great joy, also had to bear the pain and bitterness of the suffering caused in that country by various forms of abuse, even by members of the Church, and the fact that the Church authorities in the past have not always been able to adequately address these crimes,” the Pope said Wednesday.

He went on to express hope that this could change, saying that “the Irish bishops have undertaken a serious path of purification and reconciliation with those who have suffered abuse” and established “strict rules” that would ensure the safety of young people.

“In my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their endeavors to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage,” he added.

But not everyone is convinced that the Catholic Church in Ireland is on the right path.

Marie Collins, one of the survivors of clerical abuse who met with the Pope, resigned last year from a special Vatican commission created by the pontiff to tackle child abuse, saying that senior clerics in the church refused to implement their suggested safety policies.

Speaking after the meeting with survivors, the Pope told journalists that, while he holds Collins in high regard, she is “fixated” on the idea of accountability tribunals.

Allegations of child sex abuse have dogged the Catholic Church for years, but Pope Francis has come under renewed pressure in recent weeks following damning reports detailing decades of institutional cover-ups in the United States, Chile and Australia.

Two weeks ago, a grand jury report was released alleging that hundreds of “predator priests” had abused children in the US state of Pennsylvania over the past seven decades.

The news triggered a global outcry and a slew of scathing allegations. Most recently, Pennsylvania’s attorney general said Tuesday that the Vatican knew about the cover-up and shielded its priests from law enforcement.

Responding to CNN on Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Vatican would need to learn more details about the evidence before commenting.

On Sunday, the Pope faced calls to resign from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, who claimed he told the pontiff about allegations of sexual abuse against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick five years ago, but the Pope did nothing about it.

McCarrick, 88, who once led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a force in American politics, resigned as cardinal last month after a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse of a teenage altar boy. The Pope also ordered McCarrick’s suspension from public ministry.

Asked to comment on Vigano’s claim on his flight back to Italy on Sunday, Pope Francis said, “I will not say a single word on this,” although he added that after some time passes, “I may speak.”

Hada Messia reported from Rome and Simon Cullen and Judith Vonberg wrote in London. CNN’s Eliza Mackintosh also contributed to this report.