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04/24/02 - Vatican City

POPE: SIN AND CRIME

Pope John Paul the Second says sex abuse in the church is a sin and a crime.

He also told American church leaders in an emergency meeting at the Vatican that there is no room in the priesthood "for those who would harm the young." But one of the U-S cardinals present said the pope may have left some leeway for priests who repent and undergo treatment. They would not be allowed however to have contact with children.

The pope's language was his strongest yet on the molestation scandal that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church since January. His use of the word "crime" seemed to end any debate that accusations against priests should be forwarded to law enforcement.

Whatever comes out of this week's gathering will be likely be considered when U-S bishops meet in June to set a new policy.

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