Pope Francis on Thursday called on all those who work with children, starting from the scandal-stained Catholic church, to join together in an alliance to better protect sexual and other abuse of minors.

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In a message to a conference in Rome about keeping children safe, Francis said the church's own efforts are driven by “the sorrow and the shame for not having always been good custodians in protecting minors who were entrusted to our educational and social activities." The abuse by paedophile priests, with easy access to children in parishes, schools and Catholic after-school recreational programs, coupled with revelations of widespread cover-ups by bishops and other higher-ups, have marred the church's reputation eroded the trust of countless rank-and-file faithful in many countries for decades now.

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Francis described as urgent the need for “renewed training of all those who have educational responsibilities and who work in situations with minors, in the Church, in society, in the family.” The pontiff said only with a “systematic action of preventative alliance” will it be possible to combat every form of sexual abuse as well as abuse of ”conscience and of power." "May the protection of minors be ever more concretely an ordinary priority in the educational action of the Church,'' Francis said.

Survivors of sex abuse by priests and other church officials have been pressing the pope to do more to ensure sexual predators are swiftly brought to justice and prevent a repeat of systemic abuse of minors.