Pope's Meeting with Maltese Abuse Victims: Not Enough?

Critics want more than just talk

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Over the weekend Pope Benedict XVI met with victims of priestly abuse while in Malta. The meeting was reportedly emotional, and some observers found the news encouraging. Yet many commentators were unimpressed with Benedict's gesture.

  • 'Uplifting News,' says Catholic publication America's Austen Ivereigh. "According to abuse victims who spoke afterwards, the meeting was very emotional: there were tears in everyone's eyes--including Pope Benedict's. One of them later said the 45-minute meeting with the Pope had given him huge spiritual courage." Ivereigh also adds that "It would be extremely surprising if [Benedict] did not meet abuse victims in the UK when he arrives in September."
  • All Talk  "It's difficult to see what is significant about the Pope's meeting with a small number of victims in Malta," counters Colm O'Gorman, an abuse victim himself, at The Independent, unimpressed by Benedict's continued efforts to hide behind "sovereign immunity." His conclusion: "Meetings are all very well, but surely honesty and a commitment to justice would be much more meaningful?"
  • Response Still Indirect, Ambiguous  Politics Daily's David Gibson gives a hint of skepticism in his analysis:
As for the rest of Benedict's 24-hour stopover in Malta, it was largely marked by a pattern that has held throughout these months of growing crisis: Aides and officials around the pontiff address the scandals directly, if often defensively, while Benedict himself makes indirect references at best, or statements so ambiguous they could be spun many ways and in different directions.
  • Pope Fell Asleep?  New York Magazine's Josh Duboff has one of the lighter, more sympathetic take on Benedict's visit. He responds to photos showing the Pope nodding off during a Maltese mass: "It would appear the scandal is taking a visible toll on the pope."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.