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Pope Meets With Victims Of Sexual Abuse

  • VOA News

The Vatican says Pope Benedict has held a private meeting in Washington with a small group of people who were sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

In a statement, the Vatican says the pope and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with the group late Thursday and offered them encouragement and hope. The Vatican says the Pope assured the victims he would pray for them, their families and for all victims of sex abuse.

Earlier in the day, during an outdoor Mass at Washington's baseball stadium (Nationals Park), Pope Benedict expressed regret about the sexual abuse scandal involving US priests and called for healing for the victims.

At least 45-thousand worshipers gathered to see Pope Benedict on his first tour of the United States as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Dressed in a red robe and golden miter, the pope said the world is at a crossroads. He said it is a time of great promise, but warned that violence, materialism and declining morals are challenging the Catholic faith.

Pope Benedict spoke in English and briefly in Spanish, appealing to the growing number of Catholic Hispanics in the U.S.

But he praised the U.S. Catholic Church for uniting immigrants from different countries, and called the United States a land of opportunity.

The ceremony was marked by musical performances, including singing by opera star Placido Domingo, and Holy Communion given by priests dispersed throughout the stadium.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict is at Washington's Catholic University where he will meet Catholic educators and talk with leaders of different religions.

On Wednesday, he attended an elaborate welcome ceremony hosted by President Bush at the White House. The pope urged the president to use diplomacy to solve international conflicts.

The pope travels to New York City on Friday. There, he will address the United Nations and hold an outdoor Mass at Yankee Stadium. He also will visit the site of the former World Trade Center, which was destroyed by al-Qaida terrorists on September 11th, 2001.

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