On Saturday, during a mass in Sydney for World Youth Day, the pope (photo) has apologised for the sexual abuses that have been committed by Roman Catholic clergy in Australia. The acts have been described by Benedict XVI as “evil”, a grave betrayal of trust and as bringing great shame on the Catholic church.
World Youth Day is a global celebration meant to inspire a new generation of Catholics. Yet, ending on Monday, the pope 10-day visit, has been overshadowed by the issue of child sex abuse.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured”, said the pope, speaking during a mass at St Mary’s cathedral.
“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation.
“Those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”
The speech has been criticised by support groups.
The number of victims of clergy abuse is estimated by campaigners to be in the thousands, and there was no immediate confirmation of whether the pope would meet them.
“Sorry is not enough. Victims want action, not just words”, said Broken Rites Australia, a group that supports victims of church sex abuse, in a statement.
The group also said that the pope should apologise in person to individuals.
On Sunday, marking the culmination of the World Youth Day festival, Benedict XVI will lead a mass before an estimated crowd of more than 200 000.
Before, notably during a visit to the US in April, where he also met privately a small number of victims, the pope has expressed regret about the clergy abuse scandal that has rocked the church in recent days.