During a meeting with sexual abuse victims while on his apostolic visit to Malta this weekend, the Holy Father expressed his “shame and sorrow.” He underscored the Church's commitment to justice for victims and prayed for healing.
The victims expressed their feelings of "peace" after the encounter.
Pope Benedict met with eight victims of sexual abuse in Malta's Apostolic Nunciature in Rabat after Mass in the Granaries Square Sunday morning.
A statement from the Vatican reported that the Holy Father was "deeply moved" upon hearing the victims' stories. Expressing his "shame and sorrow" for the suffering caused to them and their families, he prayed with them, asking that they would be experience healing and reconciliation and be able to look to the future with renewed hope.
The Holy Father also provided his assurance of the Church's commitment, now and into the future, to do everything possible to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, bring justice to perpetrators and implement effective measures for the protection of young people.
Following the meeting, the Times of Malta reported that the victims were pleased with the meeting.
"We now have peace in our hearts, even because the Pope found time to meet us. We now look forward to the end of the court case, and closure of this chapter," one of the group told media.
According to the Times, the bishops of Malta and Gozo were also present at the meeting, which Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi called "very intense but serene."
Each of the victims met with the Pope individually and then they prayed as a group in the encounter which lasted a total of 20 minutes.