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Pope meets with German sex abuse victims

world Updated: Sep 24, 2011 13:37 IST

Pope Benedict XVI has met with German victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and and expressed "deep compassion and regret" at the suffering of those abused by members of the clergy.

Pope assured the victims that the church will do everything necessary to deal with the crimes committed by clergy against children and vulnerable adults.

"The church is taking necessary measures to promote the protection of children and young people from paedophile priests," he told a group of victims of child abuse during a visit to Erfurt, capital of Thuringia in eastern Germany on the second day of his four-day state visit to his home country.

The Pope told them that he was very much "moved and deeply shaken" by the sufferings of the sexual abuse victims and expressed his "deep compassion and regret" for the pains caused to them and to their families.

He also expressed the hope that "God may heal their wounds and give them internal peace," the Vatican said in a press statement.

The meeting lasted for about half-an-hour. He also met separately a group of people looking after the sexual abuse victims.

Germany's Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by the revelations of a series of clerical sexual abuse scandals since last year.

More than 250 cases of sexual abuse between the 1950s and 1980s have been reported and they prompted thousands of faithfuls to leave the church in protest.

There have been allegations that many of these crimes were concealed by the church authorities.

As the Pope began his visit on Thursday by addressing the Bundestag, lower house of parliament in Berlin.

Around 100 victims of sexual abuse demonstrated at the Brandenburg Gate demanding a meeting with the head of the catholic church and higher compensation from the church. They claimed that 5,000 euros of compensation offered by the church was very inadequate.

The Pope had similar meetings with victims of clerical sexual abuse during his visits to the United States, Australia, Malta and Britain.

The Pope also sought closer ties with the Protestant church by visiting the birth place of reformation in Erfurt, but maintained his hardline position that there will be no joint holy communion of the two churches or toleration of inter-denominational marriages.

Safeguarding and preserving the faith is the most important responsibility of the two churches, the Pope told the meeting.

Leaders of Germany's Protestant church expressed regret that no fresh initiatives to bring the two churches closer came from the Pontiff.