Pope Meets Sex Abuse Victims on Malta Visit

Deutsche Welle
April 18, 2010,,5479728,00.html

Pope Benedict has met with a group of clerical abuse victims during a visit to Malta and promised them the church would do everything in its power to bring justice to victims and protect young people in the future.

The Vatican said Benedict expressed his shame and sorrow at the pain the ten men suffered.

The Maltese men who claimed they were abused by priests while living in an orphanage had requested a private meeting with the pope.

Large crowds turned out to greet the pope

Earlier on Sunday, his second day in Malta, the pope celebrated an open air mass in Malta's biggest square. Church officials estimated up to 10,000 people attended despite heavy rain showers.

During his addresss, Benedict praised Malta's opposition to divorce and urged followers in the heavily Catholic nation to uphold their faith.

"At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God," the pope told those gathered.

No comment

Until the meeting with the abuse victims, the pontiff had not commented directly on the allegations that the church covered up for priests who molested minors.

"These meetings are never announced beforehand," the pope's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told reporters.

But Malta's top archbishop, Paul Cremona, was more critical.

"We cannot just cling to the model of the church to which we have been accustomed for decades," Cremona said as he opened the papal Mass.

He did not directly mention the scandal but said the "church must be humble enough to recognize the failures and sins of its members."

Top German bishop supports pope

But a top bishop in Benedict's native Germany offered Benedikt his "unreserved solidarity" as the pontiff marks the fifth anniversary of his election. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the head of the German bishops' conference, wrote in a congratulatory letter that the pope could rely on the German church's "full support."

The pope is expected to hold a meeting with thousands of young Catholics and take a harbor ride before returning to Rome on Sunday evening.

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