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Abuse victims meeting leaves Pope 'shamed'

The Local · 24 Sep 2011, 14:57

Published: 24 Sep 2011 14:57 GMT+02:00

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During a 30-minute meeting with five abuse victims in Erfurt, Thuringia, the pope said he was "moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims," the Vatican said.

The, “highly emotional and very personal conversation deeply impressed the pope, as I believe, also the victims. The pope expressed his shame of what had been possible in the Church and that we must do all we can to resolve these crimes,” said Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the German Bishops Conference.

"The Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families," said a Vatican statement.

The meeting had been keenly awaited during the 84-year-old pontiff's visit to his homeland, which was rocked by revelations of widespread abuse over the last several decades.

"He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the Church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to the promotion of effective measures for the protection of children and young people," the statement said.

"Pope Benedict XVI is close to the victims and he expresses the hope that the merciful God, Creator and Redeemer of all mankind, may heal the wounds of the victims and grant them inner peace."

Hans Langendörfer, the coordinator of the visit, told AFP the pope met three men and two women, who came from around the country.

It was very clear that the meeting had greatly touched the pope, added Langendörfer.

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics had told reporters on Thursday on his flight to Germany that he sympathised with the thousands who had turned their backs on the Church over the paedophile scandals.

"I can understand that in the face of such reports, people, especially those close to victims, would say 'this isn't my Church anymore'," the pope said.

The German Catholic Church was thrown into turmoil last year as hundreds came forward saying they were abused as minors between the 1950s and the 1980s amid allegations that the crimes were swept under the carpet.

Over the past year large-scale paedophilia scandals have rocked the Catholic Church in a number of countries, including Ireland, Austria, Belgium and the United States.

During a visit to Britain this time last year, the pope also met five victims and expressed his "deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes."

The pontiff has previously met with victims on visits to Malta, the United States and Australia. In Malta the victims said the pope wept as he met them.

Story continues below…

Late on Friday, the pope celebrated a sunset mass before 90,000 believers in a tiny village in former communist East Germany, which he praised for keeping the faith alive throughout the turmoil of the 20th century in Germany.

Christians in Germany are evenly divided between Catholics and Lutherans, with a growing trend toward secularisation sparking crises in both churches.

On Saturday, the third day of a tour of his native Germany, Benedict is due to greet the faithful in Erfurt’s main cathedral square.

Later in the day, he will hold a prayer vigil in staunchly Catholic Freiburg in the southwest.

AFP/DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:18 September 24, 2011 by Englishted
Travel the world meeting victims,great.

He had and has the power to bring some of them to book.

Why does he keep so many secrets in the Vatican ?.
13:48 September 24, 2011 by Loth
As the Catholic Church gets bashed all the time. Many forget under Islam there is no age restriction on marriage. Even Temporary wife's are ok. Gays are put to death. If fact multiple wife's are ok. 4 ten year old wife's? See the marriage videos online. So why no bashing of Islam, for their practices,why just the Catholic church?
14:13 September 24, 2011 by Redwing
@Loth Just a friendly help: the plural of wife is wives.

There are, in fact, age restrictions in Islam. A man would not be allowed to consummate a marriage with an infant.

In many "primitive" societies untainted by the better known religions, girls are married off as soon as they have reached puberty, which can be very early.
18:55 September 24, 2011 by jmclewis
Loth two wrongs do not make a right! The catholic church has not turned over all the priest to justice and there have been no major Islam Oman's denounce terrorism! Redwing the traditional strict interpretations of Islam, Christianity, Judaism are sick by present day standards and social norms.
00:50 September 25, 2011 by CER1940
If the pope was really sincere, he would start doing something about the hierarchy of the RCC that facilitated the abusers and protected them. He would also start appointing bishops, archbishops and cardinals that would take action against the abusers and their enablers. Without changes in the attitudes of the leadership they will remain on the path they have traveled for decades.
03:05 September 25, 2011 by oftesheimkerl
The irony of it all is that the Roman Catholic Church is the bulwark against what is spreading westward. Do those who bash the RCC truly believe that the misguided beliefs of irreligion, atheism, agnosticism, and paganism, like so many in the Scandinavian nations do, will be a more effective bulwark against what is spreading and metastasizing in Europe? Do you think that these misguided beliefs will be the "saving grace" of Germany and western civilization? I for one do not.
12:43 September 25, 2011 by AbhilashD
Redwing, the age limit for consummation of the marriage is 9. NINE years in Islam. Because the great Prophet was so horny he couldn't wait until Ayesha was grown up enough to "put his point across", so to speak. When Abu Bakr, Ayesha's father protested, Muhammad very conveniently received a revelation authorising him to consummate his marriage.

And yes, as jmclewis said, two wrongs don't make a right. There is not a single religion in the world, including the Eastern ones, which haven't violated our modern perception of human rights in some way. Religions all serve to hold people under their thumbs. Worst jails ever.
20:07 September 25, 2011 by kr77
If the Pope actually felt sorry, he'd change church dogma and policy: abolish celibacy, allow use of condoms, stop proselytizing and missionary activity, stop claiming that everybody who isn't a Catholic is going to hell, stop insulting people who hold different beliefs. As is, his apologies are merely part of the usual carefully crafted church propaganda.
20:19 September 25, 2011 by Gretl
Wouldn't it be great if he took this opportunity to dissolve the Catholic Church and admit that religion is a scam perpetrated against the weak willed, and call for the abolishment of all religions?

A girl can dream....
20:30 September 25, 2011 by delvek
Wouldnt it be great if all people who were small minded (Gretl) werent allowed to speak so that we wouldnt be held back in our advancement to enlightenment?

A guy can dream ....
22:24 September 25, 2011 by oftesheimkerl
Great rebuttal delvek.
03:15 September 26, 2011 by jbaker
Can we see a video tape of these emotions? or was this just a memo put out by his staff?
07:23 September 26, 2011 by Englishted

"held back in our advancement to enlightenment "

"people who were small minded (Gretl) werent allowed to speak "

Great statements as to why Gretl's dream is the way forward.


Just take re and al from the middle word of your comment to make it perfect.
15:35 September 26, 2011 by Gretl
@englishted - Thank you.

@delvek - Actually, I am very broad-minded. However, I do dislike seeing people hampered from self-realization and progress based on adherence to ancient mythologies.
12:10 September 27, 2011 by My opinion
All this abuse - worldwide.... in an institution run by men for men.... (and honestly that is NOT a dig at all men).

Does it attract or cultivate them?
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