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  • Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience at Paul VI auditorium hall in Vatican City Feb. 8, 2017.

    Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience at Paul VI auditorium hall in Vatican City Feb. 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

This “sickness” must be spotted early, he said, and student priests better evaluated to weed out potential abusers.

Pope Francis says he is at peace with himself and not taking "tranquilizing pills" while dealing with corruption in the Vatican and clergy sexual abuse.

"There is corruption in the Vatican but I am at peace," he told leaders of religious orders he met last November in the Vatican, according to a transcript published on Thursday.

"Never wash your hands of problems," he said, according to the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica.

At his election in 2013, Francis was mandated to tackle financial scandals in Vatican departments, notably its bank.

He created a new economy ministry to centralize operations, strengthened the power of the Vatican's Financial Intelligence Authority and appointed a general auditor.

While international monitors have applauded improved transparency in Vatican finances, there has been less praise for his handling of the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Church for decades.

At the meeting, he said clerical sexual abuse of children was “a clear sign the devil is at work destroying the work of Jesus through those who should be proclaiming Jesus.” 

The Pope said that seminaries should not accept candidates who had been rejected or expelled from other institutions, but child protection advocates say this has happened in the past.

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