Malta: Pope reduced to tears by meeting with abuse victims

Pope Benedict held a private meeting with eight alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests at the end of his visit to Malta today.

Ten men are are currently testifying in court against three priests who they say abused them while  they were growing up in a church-run orphanage on the island in the 1980s and 1990s.

A Vatican statement said: "The Holy Father met a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy. 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.

"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."

Speaking on local television, the  group's spokesman, Lawrence Grech said the Pope had cried during the 20-minute meeting. "I saw the Pope cry with emotion and I felt freed of a great weight," he said, adding that Benedict had blessed each of them. " I hadn't been to Mass for a long time and I'd lost my faith, but now I feel a confirmed Catholic". He said he did not think Pope Benedict should carry on his shoulders the guilt of others in the scandal.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona, told worshippers at a Mass attended by the Pope that the Catholic church to be "humble enough to recognise the failures and sins of its members".

Share this story