Sex Scandal Overshadows Pope's U.K. Visit
ROBERT SMITH, Host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Robert Smith. Pope Benedict is on the third day of a state visit to Britain. Today the Pope met with victims of clergy sexual abuse and tackled that issue head-on during a Mass in London's Westminster Cathedral.
BENEDICT: I expressed my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.
SMITH: Earlier this morning, I spoke with NPR's Philip Reeves in London, who is following the papal visit. He explained the significance of Pope Benedict's words.
PHILIP REEVES: So I think all in all this was a very important moment in this terrible issue.
SMITH: And this is more than a passing reference. He had other things to say.
REEVES: And there is a sense here that this fundamental thing has been violated. And he said, the pope said, he was thinking about the immense suffering caused by child abuse, specifically, especially, he said, within the church and by her ministers.
SMITH: Phil, I know leading up to this visit - in fact, during the visit, people have been in the streets protesting the pope around this sex abuse scandal. Do you think it's going to change any opinions there in Britain?
REEVES: The pope appears now to be very clear that he wants to address this issue publicly before the world, but we'll see how the victims' groups and others who've been highly critical of the papacy over this terrible issue, how they react to the latest attempt by the pope today at reconciliation.
SMITH: Now, the pope is keeping a normal schedule. He has an event in Hyde Park today, but this comes after six street cleaners were arrested in London, apparently on suspicion of plotting an attack on the pope. I mean - very quickly - do we know anything more about that?
REEVES: Not really. You know, it was an armed raid, antiterrorism police involved. They arrested them at a depot early yesterday, and it was just before this huge gathering of the elite, political elite and of politicians and leaders in Westminster Hall in the middle of London. And at the time it seemed terribly important. But the only new news we have really is that they're still being questioned and it's still unclear exactly what, if anything, was plotted against the pope.
SMITH: NPR's Philip Reeves in London. Thanks.
REEVES: You're welcome.
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