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Pope Hails Anti-Pedophilia Group


Pope Benedict XVI told priests Sunday they must protect their flock from harm and regain trust as he hailed efforts to battle pedophilia but did not mention the sex abuse scandals buffeting his papacy.

Benedict noted Sunday was Italy's national day to remember children who are victims of violence and offered praised for a group, led by an Italian priest, that pioneered efforts in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation to combat "violence, exploitation and indifference" toward children.

The pope didn't mention the word pedophilia, but the association he cited, known as Meter, has denounced cases of pedophile priests in Italy. The group was founded by the Rev. Fortunato Di Noto. Earlier this year, Di Noto lamented that some of these cases were handled "with imprudence" by the Church.

"On this occasion, I want to above all thank and encourage all those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education" against violence, Benedict said. He singled out "parents, teachers and so many priests, nuns" and other church workers who work with young people in parishes, schools and groups.

Sunday was the day the Vatican dedicates annually to efforts to encourage young men to enter the priesthood, and Benedict urged clergy to follow the example of Jesus "the God Shepherd" in carrying out their ministry.

A priest should "take care of his flock with immense tenderness and defend it from harm, and the faithful must place absolute trust" in their clergy, the pope said.

Benedict's encouragement of efforts to prevent abuse of children comes after weeks of stepped-up accusations he and other top churchmen helped perpetuate systematic cover-ups of abusive priests worldwide in the past decades.

Clergy abuse victims have been demanding he acknowledge his role in fostering what they call a culture of secrecy, including frequent shuffling of pedophile priests from parish to parish or even country to country after complaints of sexual abuse were not quickly reported to police and prosecutors.

This program aired on April 25, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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