Adds comments about the meeting by Vatican spokesman

The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Benedict has had a meeting with Maltese victims of child abuse,

The Vatican in a statement said that the Pope was 'deeply moved' by the stories explained to him by the victims and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families had suffered.

Pope Benedict prayed with them and assured them that the church was doing and would continue to do all in its power to investigate such allegations and to bring to justice those responsible for abuse. It would also implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.

In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Pope Benedict prayed that all the victims of
abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed
hope, the Vatican said.

The victims left the Apostolic Nunciature in Rabat at 2 p.m.

None of them gave comments, and many of them tried to hide their faces with their jackets as they were driven away in a red van.

They had arrived at the nunciature at 12.20 p.m. and left the nunciature some 45 minutes after the Pope arrived from the Mass on the granaries.


Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the meeting lasted 20 minutes and was held in the Chapel of the nunciature. The meeting started with prayer and then the Pope received the victims individually. The meeting ended with all present praying together and the Pope then blessed the victims.

"It was a very intense but serene meeting"

The bishops of Malta and Gozo were also present.

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