Pope visits UK, admits failures in sex scandal

The pope’s comments to reporters travelling with him from Rome marked his most thorough admission to date of church failures to deal with paedophile priests.  The issue has reignited with the recent revelations in Belgium of hundreds of new victims, at least 13 of whom had committed suicide.

Benedict’s four-day state visit has been overshadowed by anger over the abuse scandal and indifference in the highly secular country, where Catholics are a minority at 10 percent and have endured centuries of anti-Catholic persecution.

The pope’s first meeting Thursday was with Queen Elizabeth II, both head of state and head of the Church of England, at The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Queen welcomes

Benedict was warmly welcomed by the queen, who wore a blue-gray knee-length coat and matching hat and gloves, as tartan-wearing bagpipers marched and thousands watched under cloud-streaked blue skies. The pontiff himself donned a green tartan scarf over his shoulders as he rode through Edinburgh in the Popemobile.

In her remarks, the queen told Benedict that his visit reminded all Britons of their common Christian heritage and said she hoped relations between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church would be deepened as a result.

She also praised the Catholic Church’s “special contribution” to helping the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world.

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