ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE - Pope Francis said on Monday that he will have his first meeting with a group of sex abuse victims at the Vatican early next month and said he would show zero tolerance for anyone in the Catholic Church who abused children, including bishops.

"Sexual abuse is such an ugly crime ... because a priest who does this betrays the body of the Lord. It is like a satanic Mass," he said in some of the toughest language he has used on a crisis that has rocked the Church for more than a decade.

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Speaking to reporters for nearly an hour on the plane taking him back from a visit to the Middle East, the pope said: "We must go ahead with zero tolerance."

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