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Pope promises action against clerical sex abuse

world Updated: Apr 21, 2010 20:28 IST

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Pope Benedict XVI promised on Wednesday that the Catholic Church would take action to confront the clerical sex abuse scandal, making his first public comments on the crisis days after meeting with victims.

During his weekly public audience in St Peter's Square, Benedict recounted his tearful weekend meeting in Malta with eight men who said they were abused as children by priests in a church-run orphanage.

"I shared with them their suffering, and emotionally prayed with them, assuring them of church action," Benedict said.

At the time of the private meeting on Sunday, April 18, the Vatican issued a statement that Benedict had told the men that the church would do everything in its power to bring justice to abusive priests and would implement "effective measures" to protect children.

Today, the public heard the words from the pope himself.

Neither Benedict nor the Vatican has elaborated on what action or measures are being considered. Various national bishops conferences have, over the years, implemented norms for handling cases of priests who sodomize and molest children, none more stringent than the zero-tolerance policy adopted by the United States.