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Pope begs child abuse victims to forgive Church

Pope Benedict XVI has begged for forgiveness over child abuse by the clergy and pledged action to prevent further cases. His comments came at a service to mark the end of a year-long celebration of the priesthood.

Pope Pope Benedict XVI holds his pastoral staff as he leaves St. Peter's Square

The pope promised tighter controls on selection of priests

At a service in Rome's St. Peter's Square on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI begged forgiveness from the victims of child abuse by members of the clergy and vowed that he would "do everything possible" to protect young people.

Benedict made the pledge as the Vatican marked the end of its "Year of the Priest," a 12-month celebration of the priesthood that has been overshadowed by revelations of hundreds of cases of clerical abuse. Many claims against priests have come from the pope's native Germany.

"And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light, particularly the abuse of the little ones," the pope said.

The Vatican

The Vatican has been struggling to respond to the abuse revelations

"We... insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again."

Tighter selection controls

The comments represent the clearest apology to date by the pope over the scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church. He also promised that the Church would tighten controls on choosing men who enter the priesthood.

"In admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation," he said.

The pope himself is accused of turning a blind eye to abuse while he was the Bishop of Munich and Freising. His brother, Georg Ratzinger, who ran a Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, admitted to slapping choirboys earlier this year.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/AP/Reuters)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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