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Pope calls for 'penitence'

'We must recognise what is wrong in our lives,' Benedict says

15 April, 15:22
Pope calls for 'penitence' (ANSA) - Vatican City, April 15 - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for penitence in the face of attacks on the Catholic Church's "sins".

The pope said at a Vatican mass: "Now, under the attacks from the world that speak of our sins, we see that...it is necessary to make penitence, to recognise what is wrong in our lives".

The pope's words at the ceremony attended by the Pontifical Biblical Commission appeared set to be seen as his first public apology for the latest string of abuse scandals to hit the Church. The pope made a written apology for clerical sex abuse in an Easter letter to Irish Catholics but has not spoken out publicly about the growing scandals in Ireland, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Italy which have shaken trust in the Church.

Vatican officials for weeks accused the media of trying to smear Benedict for allegedly trying to cover up cases while Munich archbishop and as the Vatican's doctrinal enforcer from 1981 to his election as pope in 2005.

But the Vatican tried to change strategy this week by publishing the tough guidelines that have been in place since 2003 and saying Benedict will henceforth be able to defrock priests directly.

The new stance was thrown into disarray when Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone claimed a link between paedophilia and homosexuality, forcing the Vatican to make a swift 'clarification" that he was "only talking about abuse within the Church".

On visits to Australia and the United States in 2008, Benedict voiced regret over abuse and spoke with victims.

He is expected to meet discreetly with victims on a visit to Malta this weekend.

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