Pope ‘deeply sorry’ for sexual abuse by priests

July 19th, 2008 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 19 (DPA) Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday he was “deeply sorry for the pain and suffering” of those who had been sexually abused by Catholic clergy. Speaking in Sydney on his first visit to Australia, the pope was responding to a chorus of calls that he offer the same condign apology in Australia that he tendered in April during his visit to the United States.

But not all were ready to accept the apology. Lobby groups for victims demanded more cash compensation and life-long care.

The 81-year-old pontiff acknowledged “the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country.”

Speaking at a mass with senior clergy at the cathedral where he is staying for a Catholic youth festival, Benedict said he was “deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their pastor, I, too, share in their suffering.”

“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain. They have damaged the church’s witness.”

The pope is in Sydney for week-long World Youth Day celebrations, which conclude Sunday with a papal mass at a city racecourse.

“In these days marked by the celebration of World Youth Day, we are reminded of how precious a treasure has been entrusted to us in our young people, and how great a part of the church’s mission in this country has been dedicated to their education and care,” the German-born pope said.

Helen Last, spokeswoman for lobby group In Good Faith and Associates, dismissed the pope’s apology as inadequate.

“It’s just a drop in a bucket - a bucket full of tears that all of us who work with victims have been sitting with for 25 to 30 years in Australia,” Last told Australian news agency AAP.

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