Pope may meet with sex abuse victims during Britain trip

10th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI could meet with 10 victims of paedophile priests during his state visit to Britain, a press officer for the British bishops' conference said on Friday.

The pope "could meet with 10 people" who were victims of abuse, "likely in London," because of his tight schedule, said Jack Valero, spokesman of the Catholic Church in England and Wales during a briefing to media ahead of the September 16-19 state visit.

The 10 victims, all of them British, would remain anonymous, he said.

Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi said he could not confirm that a meeting would take place during the papal.

"It's a possibility. I can't rule it out, but I can't announce it officially at this time," Lombardi said.

"The pope has already met with abuse victims, but (the meetings) were never announced. They come about in a discreet manner, because events of this kind should not be surrounded by hype that might not be appreciated by those taking part" in the meeting, Lombardi said.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, on August 31 said that such a meeting, should it take place, would remain private and would not be announced officially.

Pope Benedict met with victims during his trip to Australia and the United States in 2008 as well as in Malta last April.

The trip to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham is the first state visit by a pope since England's King Henry VIII broke with the church of Rome in 1534.

John Paul II in 1982 was the first pope to set foot in the country since the rupture, but the Vatican says that was a pastoral visit, thus not a state visit.

© 2010 AFP

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