ERFURT, Germany - Pope Benedict held a surprise meeting on Friday with victims of clerical sexual abuse and expressed his deep regret for their suffering, saying the church was committed to the protection of children, the Vatican said.
The private meeting came on the second day of Benedict's four-day trip to Germany, where record numbers of Catholics have officially left the faith in protest at clerical abuse, and where the Church faces some 600 requests for compensation.
The Pope was "moved and deeply shaken" and assured victims the Church was "committed to the promotion of effective measures to protect children", the Vatican said in a statement.
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