Benedict XVI Prays With Sex Abuse Victims

Assures Them Church Is Doing «All in Its Power»

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LONDON, SEPT. 18, 2010 ( Benedict XVI met today with a group of people who suffered sexual abuse from members of the clergy, assuring them that the Church is implementing measures to protect young people from this crime.

A Vatican communiqué announced that the Pope had met with the victims at the apostolic nunciature in London, a practice that is becoming tradition on his apostolic journeys.

The Holy Father is in the United Kingdom until Sunday.

According to the communiqué, the Pontiff was «moved by what they had to say and expressed his deep sorrow and shame over what victims and their families had suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Catholic Church is continuing to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people, and that it is doing all in its power to investigate allegations, to collaborate with civil authorities and to bring to justice clergy and religious accused of these egregious crimes.»

The statement noted that he «prayed that all the victims of abuse might experience healing and reconciliation, and be able to overcome their past and present distress with serenity and hope for the future.»

Broad-ranging response

Following the meeting, the Vatican announced that the Pope addressed a group of professionals and volunteers who work to safeguard children in Church environments.

He thanked the group for their work, noting that their efforts help «to ensure that the preventative measures put in place are effective, that they are maintained with vigilance, and that any allegations of abuse are dealt with swiftly and justly.»

«It is deplorable that, in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious,» the Pope stated. «We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem.»

At the same time, the Holy Father asserted that «credit should be given where it is due,» even though there are «never grounds for complacency.»

In this regard, he lauded «the efforts of the Church in this country and elsewhere, especially in the last 10 years, to guarantee the safety of children and young people and to show them every respect as they grow to maturity.»

During his homily at Mass earlier today in Westminster Cathedral, the Bishop of Rome also mentioned the crime of clergy sex abuse, saying, «I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.»

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