Pope cries with abuse victims in Malta
Uplifting news from Malta, where Pope Benedict recently concluded his visit by a surprise private meeting with eight clerical sex abuse victims.
A Vatican statement said the Pope "was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered. 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 went on: "In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope".
According to abuse victims who spoke afterwards, the meeting was very emotional: there were tears in everyone's eyes -- including Pope Benedict's.
One of them later said the 45-minute meeting with the Pope had given him huge spiritual courage.
Speaking on local television, Lawrence Grech said he was now a lapsed Catholic, after his childhood experiences. But he said he thought the Pope should not carry the guilt of others.
"I made peace with the Church," said Joseph Magro, another of the victims.
This was the first time Benedict XVI has met with abuse victims this year, but the third time on his foreign trips -- he met abuse victims in 2008 in the US and Australia.
It would be extremely surprising if he did not meet abuse victims in the UK when he arrives in September.