Pontiff Could Receive Abuse Victims in Malta

Vatican Neither Confirms or Denies Possible Meeting

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI may meet with a group of sexual abuse victims during his apostolic trip to Malta this weekend, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, commented this today in a press conference on the details of the Pope’s two-day trip, which begins Saturday.

The Holy Father held two such encounters in the United States (April 2008) and in Australia (July 2008).

Father Lombardi said he couldn’t make an announcement, but at the same time clarified that he couldn’t exclude the possibility. If it occurred, he said, it would take place in «an climate of recollection and reflection, and not under the pressure of a media environment.»

«The time [in Malta] is short and the program is intense,» he added. «On the other occasions in Washington D.C. and in Sydney, I informed the press after the encounter had taken place. If it doesn’t take place, this means that the Pontiff will have found other ways of expressing himself.»

The Jesuit priest said the Vatican is not worried about several protests of sexual abuse victims that have been reported in recent days in the press. «These things always make the news,» he said, «but one must look at the proportion. We travel with serenity, knowing that we are going to a country with a great tradition of friendship for the Holy Father.»

Benedict XVI’s visit to Malta will be his 14th international trip, and the 11th one to Europe. The journey coincides with the 1,950th anniversary of the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on the island.

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