Pope Francis
Pope Francis has set up a commission to advise him on the sex abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church.Reuters

Pope Francis will meet victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests for the first time on Monday.

Six victims from Britain, Germany and Ireland will meet with the pontiff at his private residence, near St Peter's Basilica, in the first such direct dialogue since the pope was elected last March.

The meeting will follow a mass at the pope's private chapel, where he will to express his sympathy with tens of thousands of people abused by priests around the world.

In May, Pope Francis told journalists priests who molested children had performed the equivalent of a 'satanic mass', and said there must be 'zero tolerance' of paedophilia within the church.

Victims' groups have long called on the Vatican to hold abusers to account, as well as bishops who shielded paedophiles or were negligent in protecting children.

The pope has set up a commission to advise him on the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the Catholic Church for decades.

The commission is comprised of experts from eight countries around the world, including the Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Marie Collins, who was assaulted at the age of 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland.

An Italian cannon law professor, a German psychologist and French and British psychiatrists are also members.

Pope Francis is expected to meet with commission members this weekend and to address sex abuse by clerics in the developing world.

Speaking to reporters last month, after his tour of the Middle East, the pope said the meeting would not be a mediation but a prayer meeting that he hoped would revive the stalled process of reconciliation.

O'Malley, who heads the abuse commission, said he will recommend that negligent clerics be held accountable regardless of their rank within the church.

Much of the cases of abuse took place decades ago but have only come to the public's attention within the last 15 years.

In an attempt to protect the church's reputation, bishops moved priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or handing them over to police.

In February, the UN committee on the rights of the child took the Vatican to task for systematically failing to address decades of abuse by clerics and turning a blind eye to sex crimes perpetrated by priests.