Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tearful Pope says Church will better protect young

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by his secretary Georg Gaenswein, left, and Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, talks to journalist on an aircraft on his way to Malta, Saturday, April 17, 2010. The pope is scheduled meet with the president and visit a grotto linked to St. Paul. On Sunday he will celebrate an open air Mass and meet with young people before returning to Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
By Victor L. Simpson
Associated Press Writer / April 18, 2010

VALLETTA, Malta—Pope Benedict XVI met Sunday with a group of clerical sex-abuse victims and told them with tears in his eyes that the Catholic Church would seek justice for pedophile priests and implement "effective measures" to protect young people from abuse, the Vatican and victims said.

Benedict expressed his "shame and sorrow" at the pain the men and their families suffered and prayed with them during the meeting at the Vatican's embassy in Malta, the Vatican said.

It was the first time Benedict had met with abuse victims since the worldwide clerical abuse scandal engulfed the Vatican earlier this year, and it marked his most personal and forceful statement on the spiraling scandal since a letter to Irish faithful a month ago.

"He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future," the Vatican statement said.

The Vatican offered no further details of what measures would be implemented.

Victims' advocacy groups have demanded that the Vatican take concrete steps to protect children and remove abusive priests, saying the pope's expressions to date of solidarity and shame were meaningless unless actual action is taken.

The Vatican said the group of eight men, in their 30s and 40s, met with Benedict in the chapel of the Vatican embassy.

"Everybody was crying," one of the men, Joseph Magro, 38, told Associated Press Television News after the meeting. "I told him my name was Joseph, and he had tears in his eyes."

He said the men received a call Sunday morning to come to the embassy and that the pope spent a few minutes with each one of them. He said the overall encounter, which lasted about 35 minutes, was "fantastic."

Lawrence Grech, who led efforts to arrange the encounter, said the pope told each of the men: "I am very proud of you for having come forward to tell your story."

"It was something big," Grech said.

FULL ARTICLE: Tearful Pope says Church will better protect young

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