Pope says Catholic Church lacked vigilance on paedophilia
The Catholic Church has not been vigilant enough on the issue of paedophile priests, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday shortly before arriving in Britain for a state visit.
The revelations of widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests had been "a shock to me and a great sadness", the pope told journalists on board the plane taking him to Edinburgh for the visit to Scotland and England.
"The authorities in the church have not been vigilant enough," he said.
The Catholic Church has been shaken by revelations that priests and Catholic teachers in Ireland, the United States and other countries had abused children in their care.
The pope admitted the church authorities "did not act quickly or firmly enough to take the necessary action" to deal with the problem of clerical abuse.
"The revelations were for me a shock and a great sadness," he said, adding that it was "difficult" to understand how such actions could be "possible".
He continued: "This is a time of penitence, of unity and of sincerity."
© 2010 AFP