Madrid: Pope Francis said a process of "healing" had started within the Catholic Church in the wake of a paedophilia summit, but acknowledged guilty priests had not been punished.
The Argentine pontiff last week issued stringent child abuse legislation for Vatican City employees as part of the Church's bid to address a wave of sex abuse allegations against priests.
If I hanged 100 priests in Saint Peter's Square (people would have said) that's good, something concrete...But what interests me is not being seen to take action, but starting a healing process and that takes time.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday with Spanish TV channel La Sexta, he said he understood that many were disappointed at the lack of concrete results of the landmark Vatican summit in February, but insisted progress was being made.
"If I hanged 100 priests in Saint Peter's Square (people would have said) that's good, something concrete," he said in Spanish.
"I would been seen to have taken action. But what interests me is not being seen to take action, but starting a healing process and that takes time."
Abuse scandals have hit countries around the world, with lives devastated from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US.
Following the summit, designed to educate bishops, the pope promised an "all-out battle" against abusive priests.
But victims expressed their frustration, accusing him of not having directly addressed the problem, with one describing his comments as "pastoral 'blah-blah'".
The pope also criticised the media, saying journalists need to avoid salacious stories.