Vatican to decide if pope meets abuse victims in Britain
The Vatican will decide whether Pope Benedict XVI meets with victims of child abuse during his upcoming visit to Britain, organisers said Tuesday, adding that any talks would be strictly private.
"That's a decision for the Holy See," Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, told reporters ahead of the papal visit to Scotland and England on September 16-19.
"If it happens it will not be announced beforehand and it will be in private, which is absolutely proper to protect those who will attend who are very vulnerable."
There has been speculation that the pope will use his visit to meet with victims of clerical abuse, just as he did in Australia and the United States in 2008, and most recently in Malta in April this year.
But Chris Patten, the former Hong Kong governor and European Commission member overseeing preparations for the visit, doubted that the issue of child sex abuse by priests would dominate the trip.
"Many people think the arrangements that the Catholic church has put in place in this country for dealing with child abuse are a benchmark for what others should do, and perhaps should have done," he told reporters.
© 2010 AFP