Vatican official: Sex abuse scandal is the church's 'own 9/11'
© Getty Images

A top Vatican official on Tuesday described the Catholic Church's ongoing sexual abuse scandal as its "own 9/11," saying many had been "wounded irrevocably and mortally" by priests.

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a top aide of Pope Francis, said he was not literally comparing the scandal to the nearly 3,000 people killed in Sept. 11, according to a report from The Associated Press.

But he said the recent report showing alleged systemic sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had shown "how many souls have been wounded irrevocably and mortally by priests from the Catholic Church.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Gaenswein, whose name is also spelled as Gänswein, made the remarks during a book presentation on Tuesday, which marks the 17th anniversary of 9/11. 

“Today, even the Catholic Church looks full of confusion at its own 9/11, at its own Sept. 11, even though this catastrophe isn’t associated with a single date but rather at so many days and years, and innumerable victims,” Gaenswein said, according to the AP.

Gaenswein said the recent news of the sexual abuse and its victims from the U.S. were "even more terrible than the sudden collapse of all the churches of Pennsylvania together with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington,” according to the AP.

Gaenswein's comments come after a report earlier this year identified more than 300 priests in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania who are alleged to have committed sexual abuse that was then allegedly covered up by the church.

The report, compiled by a grand jury that met for two years, detailed more than 1,000 alleged instances of sexual abuse committed by the priests.