Pope Francis told bishops in a letter released Monday that they must adopt a “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Francis lamented the past abuses of children by priests, calling it “a sin that shames us” and asking church leaders to recommit themselves to protecting children in every way possible.

The Catholic Church “recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests,” Francis wrote.

“I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst,” he wrote. “Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated.”

Church authorities should adhere “clearly and faithfully” to a zero tolerance policy, the pope wrote.

Francis has taken some steps since his election four years ago to crack down on sexual abuse in the church, including setting up a Vatican commission to advise churches on how to prevent abuse. But some victims rights groups have criticized him, saying he hasn’t gone far enough.

The letter addressing Francis’ ongoing concerns with sexual abuse was dated Dec. 28 but not released until Monday.

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