|Pope Meets Sex Abuse Victims: Vatican
July 21, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI met a small number of Australian victims of sexual abuse by the clergy at a private mass in Sydney this morning, the Vatican says.
The Pope listened to the stories of the victims and offered them consolation in the chapel of St Mary's Cathedral.
The unscheduled meeting followed his public apology at the weekend to all Australian victims.
"A group of victims attended a papal private mass this morning," the Vatican said in a statement.
"He [the Pope] listened to their stories and offered them consolation.
"Assuring them of his spiritual closeness, he promised to continue to pray for them, their families and all victims. Through this paternal gesture, the Holy Father wished to demonstrate again his deep concern for all those who have suffered sexual abuse."
The pontiff issued the public apology to sex abuse victims at St Mary's Cathedral on Saturday, on the eve of his World Youth Day open-air mass in Sydney.
The Archdiocese of Sydney said it had nominated three victims to attend the meeting.
"We are delighted that the Holy Father was able to spend time with victims of sexual abuse before his departure today," it said in a statement.
"This private meeting was organised late in our preparations. The Professional Standards Office of New South Wales nominated three victims to meet the Holy Father, and the meeting took place this morning following a private Mass which the Holy Father celebrated for them.
"The Holy Father's meeting with victims reflects the continuing commitment of the whole church in Australia to bring healing and justice to those who have been so terribly hurt by sexual abuse."
There have been 107 convictions for sexual abuse in the Catholic church in Australia but victims groups say there may be thousands of cases.
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