Malta — With tears in his eyes, Pope Benedict XVI made his most personal gesture yet to respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal Sunday, telling victims the church will do everything possible to protect children and bring abusive priests to justice, the Vatican said.
The emotional moment carried no new admissions from the Vatican, which has strongly rejected accusations that efforts to cover up for abusive priests were directed by the church hierarchy for decades. But the pontiff told the men that the church would “implement effective measures” to protect children, the Vatican said, without offering details.
Benedict met for more than a half-hour with eight Maltese men who say they were abused by four priests when they were boys living at a Catholic orphanage. During the meeting in the chapel at the Vatican’s embassy here, Benedict expressed his “shame and sorrow” at the pain the men and their families suffered, the Vatican said.
The visit — which came on the second day of Benedict’s two-day trip to this largely Roman Catholic island — marked the first time Benedict had met with abuse victims since the worldwide clerical abuse scandal engulfed the Vatican earlier this year.