Pope Benedict XVI (R) is flanked by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as he arrives to board a plane for Malta on April 17, 2010 at Fiumicino airport near Rome. Pope Benedict XVI heads to Malta on Saturday for his first foreign trip since a wave of priest sex abuse scandals engulfed the Roman Catholic Church in Europe and the United States. (Daylife Photos)
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One of the eight victims of sexual abuse who met Pope Benedict XVI today in malta described the encounter as "very emotional," saying most of those present were crying, and even the pope had "tears in his eyes."Related Links:
"I made peace with the church," said Joseph Magro, one of the victims who met the pope.
Magro has been among the most outspoken of ten Maltese men who recently came forward to say they were abused by Catholic priests at a church-run orphanage in the 1980s and 1990s. The revelations shocked this tiny island nation, in part because another of the victims linked his abuse to a horrific murder he committed in 1991, in which he killed a homosexual man with a hammer and then cut his body into pieces with a broken bottle.
Another victim who met the pope, who asked to be described as "Immanuel," said that the victims "will continue the fight for justice," and insisted that they do not want money from the Catholic church.
This was Pope Benedict's third meeting with victims, after previous encounters in the United States in April 2008 and Australia later that same year.
In a briefing today for reporters, the Vatican spokesperson, Fr. Federico Lombardi, described the meeting as "intense" but "serene." The eight victims in the meeting were all male, he said.
Lombardi said the session took place in the chapel of the residence of the papal nuncio, or ambassador, in Malta. It began with a moment of silent prayer, and then Benedict moved near the altar to meet the victims one-by-one, allowing them to say "whatever they wished to say," Lombardi said.
The pope also responded to the victims individually, in either English or Italian, Lombardi said, but did not offer any general remarks.
The meeting concluded with a common prayer in Maltese, and the pope gave each victim a rosary.
The victims were accompanied by two local Maltese bishops, while the pope was joined by a senior Vatican official, his private secretary, and his nuncio in Malta.
On previous occassions when victims have met the pope, their first-blush reactions are generally positive, but over time some have argued that the promise of those meetings has not yet resulted in sufficient policy changes.
Recently two of the victims who met Pope Benedict in Washington in 2008 announced plans to bring a large delegation of victims to Rome in late October. They're calling the event a "Day of Reform, and intend to press the Vatican to embrace a new set of tough global policies on sexual abuse.
The Vatican also issued a formal written statement after today's meeting. It reads:
"On Sunday 18 April 2010, in the Apostolic Nunciature in Malta, the Holy Father met a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy."
"He was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future."
"In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope."
The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict has had a meeting with Maltese victims of child abuse. The Vatican in a statement said that the Pope was 'deeply moved' by the stories explained to him by the victims and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families had suffered
Pope Benedict XVI has placed a silver rose on the painting of Our Lady Ta' Pinu amid applause at the end of the Papal Mass on the Granaries in Floriana
Lawrence Gonzi-Malta PM, 56, said that in preparation for Benedict XVI's two-day visit to the nation, his office organized an exhibition that showed the relationship between St. Paul, the value of life, and the national Maltese identity
During the welcoming ceremony at the Malta International Airport in Luqa, the Pontiff noted the reason for his visit is one of a pilgrim celebrating the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck off the island of Malta
The Maltese people have been ecstatic in their welcome for Pope Benedict XVI with most of the Mediterranean island, it seems, turning out to greet him on the first day of his visit
Benedict XVI is encouraging Malta to keep alive the heritage of faith given to the island by St. Paul the Apostle
Malta "has been at the crossroads of many of the great events and cultural exchanges in European and Mediterranean history, right up to our own times. ... To these shores, then, in the mysterious designs of God, the Gospel was brought by St. Paul and the early followers of Christ. Their missionary work has borne much fruit over the centuries, contributing in innumerable ways to shaping Malta's rich and noble culture"
"Faith, the relationship with God which then transforms itself into charity, is still important today. But I also think that the memory of the shipwreck says something to us. For Malta, the opportunity to have the faith was born with the shipwreck..."
To the extent that the Vatican has a discernible public relations strategy for Pope Benedict XVI's weekend visit to the island nation of Malta, it might be expressed in a simple formula: "Let Benedict be Benedict."
Ash affected the Papal journey, as well
Abuse victims meet with Pope in Malta
For the third time Jesus appears to His disciples and on the lake of Genesareth renews the miraculous draught of fishes. The Fathers did not fail to see in the one hundred and fifty-three great fishes that Peter brought to land the neophytes born to supernatural life in the waters of baptism and brought by Peter to the feet of the risen Christ
Pope Benedict XVI has met alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests in Malta, saying the Church will do all in its power to punish abusers
"Fantastic" meeting with sexual abuse victims, Pope in tears
Ignatius Insight links of Cardinal Ratzinger's books & speeches (B16)
Homily Benedict XVI delivered today at the Sunday Mass he celebrated in Granaries Square, Floriana
Regina Caeli with those gathered in Floriana's Granaries Square, on the second day of his apostolic trip to Malta
Regina Coeli in Malta on Sunday. Before the recitation of the Marian prayer with thousands of Maltese on Sunday, he acknowledged Malta’s particular devotion to Mary and presented a special gift to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu
When meeting with they youth of Malta, Benedict XVI assured them that God and the Church reject no one, and that they should be proud of their country's Catholic heritage
George Abela, president of Malta, delivered today at Malta's International Airport at the farewell ceremony that brought an end to Benedict XVI's two-day trip to the country
Malta trip went off in an excellent manner, with impressive organization and logistics
On the island where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, he challenged the young to respond to the same Lord who called Paul
Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to all the priests of the world for the end of the Year for Priests