Pope Francis told American bishops in a letter Thursday to stop "playing the victim or the scold" and do something about a "culture of abuse" in the Church, NBC News reported.
The bishops are at a retreat in a seminary near Chicago. The U.S. Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse allegations, which Francis referred to in the letter.
"The Church's credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts to deny or conceal them," he said.
The letter is a "big deal" for specifically addressing the U.S. church, with its many divisions and its credibility crisis amid cover-ups, according to Jesuit priest and author Rev. James Martin.