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Pope Benedict Meets, Prays With Clergy Sex Abuse Victims

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Pope Benedict XVI, after urging bishops, priests and parishioners to heal the wounds caused by the clergy sex abuse scandal, talked and prayed privately with survivors Thursday in what was believed to be a first-ever meeting between a pontiff and abuse victims.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a papal spokesman, said that Benedict and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley met with a group of five or six victims for about 25 minutes in the chapel of the papal embassy, offering them encouragement and hope.

Lombardi said the pope told the survivors he would pray for them, their families and all victims of clergy sex abuse. Each of the victims spent a few minutes with Benedict privately. Some were in tears during the meeting, Lombardi said.

Benedict has spoken repeatedly about the abuse crisis during his first trip to the United States as pope.

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