Pope Francis has been slammed by church officials and sex abuse survivors for cutting penalties for paedophile priests.
The Pope is said to be applying his vision of a ‘merciful church’ to sex offenders by reducing punishments to weaker sentences, such as a lifetime of prayer and penance.
It has been revealed by church officials that Pope Francis overruled advice given to him by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about two priests – allowing them to be punished by a lifetime of prayer.
One of the priests was the Reverend Mauro Inzoli, who was found guilty of abusing young boys by the Vatican in 2012 and was ordered to be defrocked.
However, he appealed, and in 2014 Francis reduced the penalty to a lifetime of prayer, prohibiting him from celebrating Mass in public or being near children, barring him from his diocese and ordering five years of psychotherapy.
Rev Inzoli was then convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against five children as young as 12.
He is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him.