Pope needs to do more on sex abuse: victims

23rd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A US group representing victims of sex abuse by priests on Thursday urged Pope Benedict XVI to offer significant reforms to halt abuse, saying he has so far failed to do enough.

The remarks by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) come as the pope visits his native Germany.

"It's sad that in Germany, where hundreds of brave, wounded child sex abuse victims have spoken up in the last year, the pope can't bring himself to openly address the most devastating crisis in modern church history," said SNAP president Barbara Blaine.

"If he can't even talk about it, there's little chance he can fix it."

The Vatican said that Benedict will likely meet with victims, as he has on previous trips.

SNAP's Blaine was unimpressed.

"We keep looking for the papal speech in which he outlines clear, specific action steps that will help prevent future clergy sex crimes and cover ups. But it never happens. This time is no exception," she said.

"It's ironic that the pope speaks of justice while his lawyers and church lawyers across the globe consistently fight to stop child sex abuse victims from being heard in court."

SNAP said that its members will hold a new conference in each city the pope visits.

The pope earlier expressed understanding for those who left the Catholic Church after the wave of sex abuse 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 84 year-old Benedict told reporters on his flight from Rome.

He asked for patience as the Church grapples with outrage over the scandals that has threatened to cloud his four-day visit to Germany, where his election six years ago was met with an outpouring of joy.

Benedict's papacy has also been marred by the revelations last year of rampant abuse by priests in Germany over several decades.

© 2011 AFP

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