Pope Benedict XVI has met with a group of self-described clerical abuse victims during his trip to the small mediterranean island of Malta. He promised them the church would do everything in its power to bring justice to victims and protect young people in the future.
The Vatican said Benedict expressed his "shame and sorrow" at the pain the men and their families suffered and prayed with them during the meeting at the Vatican's embassy in Malta.
It was the first time Benedict had met with such victims since the worldwide clerical abuse scandal engulfed the Vatican earlier this year.
The pontiff is on a two day visit to the island to mark the 1,950th anniversary of the shipwreck of the apostle Paul.
The trip comes amidst the worst crisis of his papacy as the Vatican struggles to cope with widespread accusations of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by bishops around the globe.
Benedict made no direct reference to the clerical sex-abuse victims during the Mass but met them privately later.
He was reported to have promised them with tears in his eyes that the Catholic Church would seek justice for paedophile priests and implement "effective measures" to protect young people from abuse.