Pope hopes to help heal wounds of priestly sex abuse during U.S. trip

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ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO THE U.S. (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped to help heal the wounds of priestly sex abuse during his visit to the United States and promised steps to ensure that such acts do not happen again.

The pope made his remarks to reporters aboard his chartered Alitalia jet April 15, about an hour after taking off from Rome for his April 15-20 visit to Washington and New York City.

The pope stood at the front of the coach class of the plane and answered four questions chosen in advance, touching on topics of immigration, church-state relations and the United Nations.

Asked what he would have to say about the clerical sex-abuse scandal in the U.S., the pope said the church should work for justice and help the victims as much as possible.

"Really, it is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen," he said.

"If I read the histories of these victims, it's difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give the love of God to these children," he said.

"We are deeply ashamed and will do all possible that this cannot happen in the future," he said.

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