Pope to apologise for sexual abuse by priests

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Melbourne, July 13 : Pope Benedict XVI has begun his nine-day visit to Australia, where is expected to issue an apology to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The Pope is visiting Australia to head the major Catholic youth festival, World Youth Day (WYD) in Sydney.

However, the six-day event was overshadowed by the launch of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations.

The leader of Australia's Catholics, Cardinal George Pell, has come under criticism for his handling of a 1982 case allegedly involving the sexual abuse of minors by a priest.

During his 20-hour flight from Rome to Australia, Pope revealed that he would use his first visit Down Under to apologise to sexual abuse victims.

The event is expected to draw some 200,000 young Catholics to the city.

"It is essential for the Church to reconcile, to prevent, to help and to see guilt in this problem," The Australian quoted Pope Benedict, as saying.

"It must be clear... that being a real priest is incompatible with this (sexual abuse) because priests are in the service of our Lord," he added.

During his trip, the Pope will also meet Aborigine groups, and is likely to repeat an apology made by Pope John Paul to Australia's indigenous people for injustices carried out by Catholic missionaries.

He also told reporters he wanted to wake up consciences, to make politicians and experts respond to environmental issues.

However, he made it clear he had no intention of addressing any specific political or technical questions about climate change.

ANI

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