Pope Benedict XVI was "deeply ashamed" of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests

Vatican City, Apr. 15, 2008 (vaticans.org) - During an exchange with reporters who accompanied him on an April 15 flight from Rome to Washington, Pope Benedict XVI said that he was "deeply ashamed" of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.

The Holy Father told reporters that he would "do everything possible to heal this wound." Specifically, he said that it was important to exclude pedophiles from the priesthood.

The Pope's reaction to the sex-abuse scandal is a leading concern among reporters covering the papal visit to the United States. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, prior to his election as Pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was responsible for disciplinary action imposed on pedophile priests. Close associates report that the future Pontiff was appalled by the information he received from the US about priestly misconduct.

Vatican officials have indicated that the Pope will address some remarks to the scandal during his visit to the US this week-- probably when he addresses seminarians in New York.

Pope Benedict was due to arrive at Andrews Air Force base, outside Washington, at 4 on Tuesday afternoon. President George W. Bush was to lead the official US delegation at an informal welcoming ceremony. Upon his arrival the Pope is due to travel directly to the residence of the apostolic nuncio in Washington; there are other events on the Pope's schedule for the day.

The White House has scheduled a dinner to celebrate the Pope's arrival, which will be attended by various Catholic dignitaries. Pope Benedict himself was never expected to attend the dinner and-- contrary to some reports circulated on internet news sites-- did not turn down a White House invitation to the event.


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