VARIOUS: Pope Benedict due to arrive in Malta for a two-day trip set to be overshadowed by on-going sex abuse...
- Title: VARIOUS: Pope Benedict due to arrive in Malta for a two-day trip set to be overshadowed by on-going sex abuse scandals
- Date: 18th April 2010
- Summary: SANTA VENERA, MALTA (APRIL 15, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS PHOTOS OF LAWRENCE GRECH AS CHILD WITH NUNS
- Reuters ID: LVAAUPPVOYXEK1IMLJVNE75SIAXO
- Duration: 00:00:05
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- Topics: International Relations,Religion
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- Story Text: Pope Benedict was due to arrive in Malta on Saturday (April 17) for a two-day trip set to be overshadowed by on-going sex abuse scandals.
The visit was intended to commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of the shipwreck there of Saint Paul, the great missionary of early Christianity but as more embarrassing details emerged on the Church's sexual abuse crisis and a victim urged him to apologise while in Malta this weekend he may have to address the issue.
Given the wave of accusations against the church, Vatican scholar Marco Politi said the public will be interested to see how the pontiff handles the situation in the island.
"Well Malta is one society in Europe which is still very much Christian. But also in Malta there are sex abuse victims who want to meet the Pope so I think that the public opinion is very much interested in seeing whether the Pope will meet these victims," said Politi.
Lawrence Grech, one of 10 Maltese men suing the Church for alleged sexual abuse said he had asked for a private audience with the Pope to discuss the abuse he suffered at an orphanage on the island.
Grech 37, who is now married with two children, started a legal battle against the Church in 2003 claiming sexual molestation by two priests and a brother from the age of 11 during his residency at the St. Joseph orphanage in Santa Venera.
Archbishop Paul Cremona said a meeting by the Pope with the victims would be a positive step.
"They asked me to give a letter to the Pope asking for this meeting but unfortunately it depends on the Vatican. So I think at the last moment they will inform us whether it's going to happen or not. They wish it very much," he said and added, "I think it would be positive. I think it would be a very important step if this meeting happens."
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi has said the pope was ready to meet more victims but not under pressure from the media. He could not say if a meeting would take place in Malta.
The Vatican was hit by another embarrassing revelation late on Thursday when a website posted a letter by a senior Curia cardinal heartily congratulating a French bishop in 2001 for not denouncing a self-confessed abusive priest to the police.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who at the time headed the Vatican department in charge of priests around the world, told Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux he was a model for all bishops for his behaviour in the case that shocked France.
The priest, Rev. Rene Bissey, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for sexually abusing 11 boys and Pican got a suspended three-month sentence for not reporting the crimes.
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- Embargoed:3rd May 2010 13:00