Pope Francis asked forgiveness Wednesday for a series of scandals that have rocked the Vatican and Rome.
Francis made the off-the-cuff remarks during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Associated Press reports.
“Before I begin the catechesis I would like in the name of the church to ask your forgiveness for the scandals which have recently fallen on Rome and the Vatican,” Francis said. “I ask your forgiveness.”
“Jesus is a realist and he says that it is inevitable that scandal happens, but woe to the man who causes such scandals,” he said before reading his prepared remarks and did not elaborate.
According to Reuters, "Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi could not say which scandals the pope had in mind but said Francis wanted to reach out to ordinary people who are "disturbed or pained" when they read about scandals caused by "the Church or men of the Church"."
Early this month, a high ranking Vatican official announced he was happily in a same-sex relationship on the eve day of a high-level meeting of the world's bishops to discuss church teachings on family issues.
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa who had lived and worked in Rome for the last 17 years said he wanted to challenge the church's "backwards" attitude to homosexuality, the BBC reported.
The Vatican criticized the timing of his revelations and immediately removed him from his post in the Vatican’s doctrine office.
"The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
But the pontiff could have been referring to more recent scandal exposed in the Italian media last week about a priest who is accused of paying for sex, Reuters reports.
Parishioners in the Santa Teresa d'Avila parish wrote to local Church officials alleging that a clergyman there had had encounters with "vulnerable adults". Newspapers said these took place in an adjacent park often frequented by male prostitutes.
According to the letter published in the media, parishioners said they had assembled evidence about the clergyman's illicit activities and were furious to discover he had been transferred to another part of Italy instead of being disciplined.
There was speculation that the pontiff may also have alluded to politics. Rome's Mayor, Ignazio Marino resigned last week following a scandal over his personal expenses.
“Mayor Ignazio Marino’s downfall followed widespread criticism within the church that the city was ill-prepared to handle the millions of pilgrims expected for Francis’s Jubilee Year of Mercy, which starts in December,” the AP reports.