- Australia - Benedict XVI - children - paedophilia
Pope Benedict apologised on Saturday for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia, saying those responsible should be brought to justice.
"I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured," the pontiff said in a homily in Sydney.
"These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation," he said. "Those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice."
Victims of church abuse in Australia have been calling on the pope to issue a public apology during his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day, July 15-20.
Broken Rites, which represents abuse victims in Australia, has a list of 107 convictions for church abuse, but says there could be thousands of victims as only a few cases go to court.
The pope confronted the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States during a visit to Washington in April, meeting victims and vowing to keep paedophiles out of the priesthood.
Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has overshadowed the pope's visit to Sydney, with the church reopening a 25 year-old abuse case in Australia only days before the pontiff arrived.
Benedict said sexual abuse by clergy had damaged the Catholic Church.
"I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country," he said during a mass inside Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral.
"I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should recieve compassion and care..."
Victims of abuse have said the pope must not just apologise for past church abuse but implement an open and accountable system of investigating abuse claims. They say the Catholic Church in Australia continues to try and cover-up abuse.