Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 26, 2010
Benedict meets abuse victims, expresses shame for their suffering
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VALLETTA, MALTA - Pope Benedict met with eight victims of priestly sex abuse in Malta and promised them the Church would do "all in its power" to bring offenders to justice and protect children.
The pope was "deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered," a Vatican statement said after the private encounter.
"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 statement said.
The meeting at the apostolic nunciature in Rabat came after a group of victims had asked to meet with the pope to tell him of their ordeal and ask for an apology. Participants said the victims cried as they told their stories, and the pope had tears in his eyes as he listened.
PEACE IN THEIR HEARTS
"We now have peace in our hearts, even because the pope found time to meet us. We now look forward to the end of the court case, and closure of this chapter," one unidentified victim told the Times of Malta.
The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told journalists the private meeting in the chapel of the nunciature lasted about 20 minutes.
The pope, Archbishop Paul Cremona of Malta, Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo and eight male victims of abuse began the encounter kneeling in silent prayer, Lombardi said.
The pope then stood by the altar and met with each victim one by one to hear his story and to speak with each privately, he said. The victims were in their 30s and 40s.
One of the victims, Lawrence Grech, said the two bishops with them shed tears during their meeting. Another said the pope had tears in his eyes.
"I admire the pope for his courage in meeting us. He was embarrassed by the failings of others," said Grech.
Grech, one of the victims who had asked for the papal meeting, has said he and others were abused as boys by four priests at the St. Joseph Orphanage in Santa Venera.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.