The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Pope meets abuse victims in Malta — UPDATED

Details are sketchy, but I expect we’ll learn more soon.

From the BBC bulletin:

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.


The Pope also “expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered”, a Vatican statement said.

The meeting took place at the end of the pontiff’s visit to Malta.

Three priests are accused of sexually abusing orphan children on Malta in the 1980s and 1990s.

The AP report ads:

It was the first time Benedict had met with abuse victims since the worldwide clerical abuse scandal engulfed the Vatican earlier this year.

“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,” a Vatican statement said.


Victims’ advocacy groups have demanded that the Vatican take concrete steps to protect children and remove abusive priests, saying the pope’s expressions to date of solidarity and shame are meaningless unless actual action is taken.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: John Allen has an excellent write-up about the meeting:

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.”

“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 in the orphanage 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.

Read on for more.

Comments read comments(5)
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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Deacon Greg,
Thanks for highlighting this story.
Our Holy Father is credited with possessing a brilliant mind, but this story reminds us that he also has a good heart. This meeting in Malta is not unlike his meeting with victims during his Apostolic Visit to the U.S. two years ago.
The Times (UK) Online reported the story with the following headline (“Pope ‘had tears in his eyes’ when he met sex victims”) and lead:
“Victims of clerical sex abuse in Malta have described how they wept as they prayed with the Pope today after he agreed to meet them on his trip to the island. They said that the Pope also had ‘tears in his eyes.’ ”
I’m sure there is still rot to be uncovered but I am proud of this Pope and his efforts to root it out. Pray for him and for all our bishops to continue to rid us of this filth.
The world needs a strong, faithful and truly holy Church.

report abuse

Reaganite in NYC

posted April 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks for updating this with John Allen’s dispatch. Was particularly moved by this part of Allen’s report:
“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.”
They don’t want money from the Church? If so, these guys each possess a ton of integrity. I pray for them. What a shining example of faithfulness and forgiveness that puts the rest of us in our comfortable circumstances to shame.
Deacon Greg, thanks for tracking this story.

report abuse


posted April 18, 2010 at 7:06 pm

“Victims’ advocacy groups have demanded that the Vatican take concrete steps to protect children and remove abusive priests, saying the pope’s expressions to date of solidarity and shame are meaningless unless actual action is taken.”
Wow. The press and these groups apparently do not want to acknowledge that actual action has been taken and is being taken. I wonder why the press refuses to talk about the steps that have been taken since 2002?

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Mere Catholic

posted April 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I went on the SNAP website to see if there was any reaction from them. And there was this statement as part of a press release on Friday: “We expect the Pope will meet with victims in Malta this weekend. His visit will make a handful of wounded individuals feel better for a while. It will do nothing to stop priests from molesting kids or bishops from concealing crimes.” I can understand SNAP’s attitude in having dealt with malfeasant bishops and their ongoing quest for greater oversight of abusive priests, but I found their statement very paternalistic. An abuse survivor’s journey is an individual one and from all indications these survivors asked to meet with the Pontiff and were able to meet with him privately without the glare of publicity. If such a meeting is part of what they need to heal, then so be it.

report abuse


posted April 21, 2010 at 11:04 am

So, no comments about the random gay man who gets murdered because priests rape a little boy, the church tells the little boy all gays are child molesters, and he gets revenge on an innocent party.
The Pope is as responsible for this murder as the man who held the hammer.

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