Pope sorry for priests' sex abuse

Other News Materials 19 July 2008 10:47 (UTC +04:00)

Pope Benedict XVI has told Australians he is deeply sorry for the sexual abuse of children by some Catholic priests, reported BBC.

Speaking at a gathering of bishops during his visit to Australia, the Pope spoke of the "shame we have all felt" and called for abusers to face justice.

He said the deeds of abusive clergymen were a great betrayal of trust, which damaged the Catholic Church.

A campaign group has criticised the speech, saying the Pope should have met some victims to apologise in person.

"Sorry is not enough. Victims want action, not just words," the Broken Rites group said in a statement.

There was no immediate confirmation of whether the pontiff would meet abuse victims - as he did during a US trip in April, when he also expressed shame for the scandal.

Speaking during mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, he said: "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured.

"These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation.

"Those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice."

Broken Rites, which had wanted the Pope to meet some of the victims in person, says there have been 107 convictions against Catholic clergymen on sex charges in Australia.

But the campaigners estimate the number of victims to be in the thousands.

The BBC's Nick Bryant, in Sydney, says victims have complained that the Church in Australia has tried to stall compensation claims and cover up certain cases.

The Pope is visiting Australia to mark World Youth Day, which is drawing Catholics from around the world to the country.