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Pope to Express
Regret for Abuse in Australia

Pope to Express
Regret for Abuse in Australia

Pope Benedict XVI will likely express regret for sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy when he visits Australia next week, the church's senior cleric in the country said Monday.

Pope Benedict XVI will likely express regret for sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy when he visits Australia next week, the church's senior cleric in the country said Monday.

Cardinal George Pell said the pope spoke about the church's sex abuse scandal during a visit to the United States earlier this year and he was likely to do something similar when he is in Sydney for the World Youth Day festival, to be held from July 15 through 20.

"He handled it very well in the United States and I anticipate he'll do the same here," Pell told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Support groups for victims of church abuse in Australia, whose numbers are not known but activists claim are in the thousands, have demanded the pope make a full and open apology for clergy abuse and do more to compensate victims and prevent future abuse.

"The apology is necessary, but the apology must come with action," said Chris MacIsaac, a spokeswoman for Broken Rites, a support group for Australian victims of clergy abuse.

During a six-day visit to the United States in April, Benedict returned to the issue repeatedly in public comments and met with a group of abuse victims.

He called the crisis a cause of "deep shame," pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, and decried the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from such "gravely immoral behavior" by priests. He also said the problem had sometimes been "badly handled" by the church.

Clergy sex abuse, some of it dating back a half-century, surfaced in high-profile cases during the past couple of decades and has become a public issue in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and elsewhere.

Benedict is scheduled to lead prayers and make speeches during World Youth Day, a five-day festival in Australia expected to draw 250,000 pilgrims to Sydney. He is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other top government officials as well as representatives of pilgrims and other faiths. No meeting with abuse victims is on his official schedule. (AP)

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