By NICOLE WINFIELD / Associated Press
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) - Pope Francis has defended his words of consolation to U.S. bishops over the priest sex abuse scandal but says - for the first time - that those who covered up for abusers are guilty of wrongdoing.
In a wide-ranging press conference en route to Rome from his first-ever visit to the United States, Francis also declared conscientious objection a "human right," explained his admiration for American nuns and discussed his own star power, which was fully on display during his six-day, three-city tour.
He also invented a new Italian word to describe the exuberant reception he received in New York City: "stralimitata" - roughly, "beyond all limits."
On his last day in the U.S., Francis on Sunday met with five survivors of sexual abuse and issued a warning to bishops that they would be held accountable if they failed to protect their flocks.
"Those who covered this up are guilty," he said. "There are even some bishops who covered this up. It's something horrible."