Aide: Pontiff Took Decisive Steps in Ending Crisis

Reflects on Pope’s Meeting With Abuse Victims in Malta

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 ( Benedict XVI’s trip to Malta, particularly the meeting with victims of abuse by priests, was a decisive step in ending the crisis in the Church, a Vatican spokesman affirmed.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, assessed the 14th international apostolic voyage of this Pontificate in his latest editorial on Octave Dies.

Speaking about the Pontiff’s April 17-18 visit to Malta, the priest affirmed, «The Pope’s first foreign trip this year was splendid.»

He continued: «Again worries and fears about security showed themselves to be unjustified. The cordial soul and the Catholic roots of the Maltese people prepared a welcome for Benedict XVI that was spontaneous and a memorable warmth.»

«It was a continual crescendo,» Father Lombardi stated, «from festive accompaniment of the flotilla across the port of Valletta to the final enthusiasm of the young people, a true song of vitality and hope.»

«Paradoxically,» he said, «the moment that was most anticipated by the world media, and which they spoke of the most, was the only one that they did not see, taking place in discretion and prayer and at the most personal level: the meeting with some victims of sexual abuse.»

«But the way that some participants described it deeply touched countless people,» the priest noted, «A great weight was lifted from their hearts; the healing began; confidence and hope were reborn.»

He added that «the Pope, the following Wednesday, spoke about the ‘sharing of suffering’ and of his own emotion» on that occasion.

Father Lombardi recalled, «Some days before he said that penance is a grace, and arriving in Malta to commemorate the shipwreck of St. Paul he observed that this shipwreck was a new beginning for the faith and hope of the island’s inhabitants.»

«Thus,» he continued, «the meeting with the victims founds its meaning of hope in the context of the Pope’s encounter with a Church that is alive and on a journey, capable of recognizing its wounds with sincerity but also of obtaining the grace of healing.»

The priest added, «We need this message.»

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