Pope 'shaken' by talks with abuse victims

2011-09-24 13:02

Erfurt - Pope Benedict XVI met victims of sexual abuse by clergy on the second day of his visit to his German homeland on Friday, an encounter that left him "deeply shaken", Vatican officials said.

He also held joint prayers with members of the Protestant faith in Germany, in a bid to build bridges between the two churches.

During a 30-minute meeting with abuse victims in Erfurt, the pope said he was "moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims", the Vatican said. Church officials described the meeting as "very, very emotional".

"The Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families," said a Vatican statement.

Pope ‘close to victims’

The meeting had been keenly awaited during the 84-year-old pontiff's visit to his homeland, which was rocked by revelations of widespread abuse over the last several decades.

"He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to the promotion of effective measures for the protection of children and young people," the statement said.

"Pope Benedict XVI is close to the victims and he expresses the hope that the merciful God, Creator and Redeemer of all mankind, may heal the wounds of the victims and grant them inner peace."

Hans Langendoerfer, the co-ordinator of the visit, told AFP the pope met five victims of abuse, three men and two women.

It was very clear that the meeting had greatly touched the pope, added Langendoerfer.

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics had told reporters on Thursday on his flight to Germany that he sympathised with the thousands who had turned their backs on the church over the paedophile scandals.

"I can understand that in the face of such reports, people, especially those close to victims, would say 'this isn't my church anymore'," the pope said.

Abuse scandal rocks church

About 9 000 papal opponents later demonstrated in Berlin while the pontiff addressed parliament in a rally that focused in large part on the molestation scandals.

The German Catholic Church was thrown into turmoil last year as hundreds came forward saying they were abused as minors between the 1950s and the 1980s amid allegations that the crimes were swept under the carpet.

Over the past year large-scale paedophilia scandals have rocked the Catholic Church in a number of countries, including Ireland, Austria, Belgium and the US.

During a visit to Britain this time last year, the pope also met five victims and expressed his "deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes".

The pontiff has previously met with victims on visits to Malta, the US and Australia. In Malta the victims said the pope wept as he met them.

Rifts between churches

Earlier on Friday, on the second leg of the tour, the pope held prayers with Protestant leaders in a show of greater Christian unity.

Benedict said the different wings of the church should "keep in view just how much we have in common, not losing sight of it amid the pressure towards secularisation - everything that makes us Christian in the first place and continues to be our gift and our task".

The service was also attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Lutheran.

But it disappointed some observers, who said the pope had failed to match his conciliatory message with concrete action to heal the 500-year-old rift between the churches.

The head of the Lutheran Church, Nikolaus Schneider, said he had conveyed the message to the pontiff that his flock was not satisfied with current relations with the Vatican.

"Our hearts are burning for more and that could be sensed today," he said.

Late Friday, the pope celebrated a sunset mass before 90 000 believers in a tiny village in former communist East Germany, which he praised for keeping the faith alive throughout the turmoil of the 20th century in Germany.

Christians in Germany are evenly divided between Catholics and Lutherans, with a growing trend toward secularisation sparking crises in both churches.

On Saturday, the third day of a tour of his native Germany, Benedict is due to greet the faithful in the main cathedral square in the eastern city of Erfurt.

Later the day, he will hold a prayer vigil in staunchly Catholic Freiburg in the southwest.

- SAPA

Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope benedict xvi  |  germany  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Newlands - 13:00 PM
    Road name: M3 Southbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC approaching the Newlands Avenue exit
  • Wednesday Bakoven - 12:59 PM
    Road name: Victoria Road Northbound
    DELAYS between Oudekraal and Bakoven
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.