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Pope meets victims of church sex-abuse scandal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-19

The pope met with a "small group" of victims of sex abuse by priests Sunday during a brief visit to Malta. The trip came amid a wave of paedophile charges against the church and criticism that the Vatican has helped to protect predator priests.

AFP - Pope Benedict XVI held an impromptu meeting Sunday with a "small group" of victims of sex abuse by priests during a brief visit to Malta, the Vatican said.

The pontiff "was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered," the Vatican said in a statement.

Pope Benedict "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," it said. 

The 83-year-old pope arrived in Malta on Saturday for a 26-hour visit, on his first foreign trip since a wave of priest sex abuse scandals swept across Europe and the Americas in recent months.

He has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks over allegations that the Vatican hierarchy, himself included, helped protect predator priests.

After the Maltese victims requested the meeting with the pope last week, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the pontiff would not bow to "media pressure" for such a meeting, but did not rule it out.

Date created : 2010-04-18

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