Saddened by new story surrounding the death of a six-year-old girl in Naples, Pope Francis called for a "severe punishment" for pedophiles saying the case was tragic and should not be tolerated.
"We must protect minors and severely punish abusers," he said, departing from his draft weekly Sunday message and blessing to tens of thousands faithful that have gathered at St, Peter's Square.
The case of Fortuna Loffredo in June 2014 disturbed most of Italy's third largest city. It became more shocking when homicide police re-opening the case found new evidence that the girl was allegedly raped in a housing block in the city's rough area, and to try to hide the crime the culprit threw her out the building.
"We should not tolerate the abuse of minors," the pontiff said referring to the Fortuna's rape-slay case that has dominated the front pages of newspapers for days.
Vatican itself has its own score of scandals committed by priests, but the pontiff did not indicate them in his message.
Police arrested and charged 43-year-old Raimondo Caputo suspect, and hinted that Fortuna was not only his victim. One of his children also complained to the police to the police that their father sexually abused them.
Police said Caputo threw the girl off the building to hide his crime, an accusation Caputo denied in his detention cell in Rome.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella is pleased with the way the investigation of the case is going and called for an "ample, rapid and severe" judicial process of the case.
With regards to the sexual abuses in the Church, Pope Francis had earlier vowed "zero tolerance", and created a commission to help him on how to root it out.
Last March, Cardinal George Pell, came under fire for his handling of the cases of abused children decades ago in Australia.