Sept. 26 (UPI) -- On a flight returning to the Vatican late Tuesday, Pope Francis said Catholic youth have been "scandalized" by sex abuse scandals.
The pope made the remarks aboard a papal flight from the Baltics, where he answered reporters' questions for nearly an hour.
"I know that young people are scandalized by such great corruption," he said while returning to the Vatican from Estonia. "They know that it is everywhere, but in the church it is the most scandalous because it should bring children to God and not destroy them."
The pope mentioned the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which showed more than 300 credible sex abuse reports accusing priests and involving more than 1,000 children, and the the culture of cover-ups in the past.
"It is true that it is an accusation against the church, and we all know, we are all aware of the statistics, I will not say them," Francis said. "But even if it was just one priest who abused a boy or a girl, this is atrocious."
However, he added that the abuse has diminished over time.
"In the old times these things were covered up, they even covered them up at home, when the uncle was molesting the niece, when the dad was molesting his sons, they covered it up because it was a very big disgrace," he said. "A historic event is interpreted with the hermeneutic of the time period in which it took place, not as a hermeneutic of today passed on. For example, the example of indigenous people, that there were so many injustices, so much brutality, but it cannot be interpreted with the hermeneutic of today [now] that we have another conscience."
In particular, he pointed out that accusations of clergy sex abuse according to church statistics and the investigative grand jury report, which said the "bulk" of accusations in the state occurred before the early 2000s.
"I take the example of Pennsylvania, watch the correlations and watch when the church became conscious of this," Francis said. "I have received so, so many completed convictions from the Doctrine of the Faith and I have said forward, forward, never have I signed a request for grace after a conviction."