Pope Francis leads a holy mass on September 25, 2018 at the Liberty Square in Tallinn, Estonia on the third day of his Baltic tour. / AFP / JANEK SKARZYNSKI
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Pope Francis acknowledged Tuesday that priestly sex abuse scandals are outraging the Catholic faithful and driving them away, and said the church must change its ways if it wants to keep future generations. Francis referred directly to the crisis convulsing his papacy on the fourth and final day of his Baltic pilgrimage, which coincided with the release of a devastating new report into decades of sex abuse and cover-ups in Germany.The abuse scandal, which erupted in Ireland in the 1990s and subsequently in Australia and the United States, now threatens Francis' own papacy since his record as cardinal and pope has proved uneven on the topic.Estonia only has 6,000 Catholics nationwide, but residents still seemed to welcome Francis' inclusive message and flocked to his final Mass in a chilly but sun-soaked Freedom Square near Tallinn's charming medieval center.Upon arriving Tuesday, Francis praised Estonia's social and economic transformation in the quarter century since the 1991 Soviet collapse.More than half of Estonia's 1.3 million people profess no religious affiliation.
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