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Malta abuse victims demand to meet Pope

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Malta abuse victims demand to meet Pope
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There is further pressure on Pope Benedict over child abuse.

A group of men in Malta who say they were sexually abused by Catholic priests are demanding an audience with the Pope.

Benedict XVI is visiting the island this weekend, one of the most Catholic countries in Europe where divorce remains illegal.

The trip had been planned for months, but the pontiff is unlikely to get any respite from the child abuse scandal rocking the church.

A group of 10 men began court proceedings against three priests seven years ago but the case is still pending.

Abuse victim Lawrence Grech said: “He used to masturbate me. And after seven o’clock, you know, we go downstairs, for mass. And you see him celebrating the mass. Imagine how you feel.”

“I wish to meet the Pope. The Pope knows the truth. And I (want an apology) for the victims in Malta because he went (to) Australia and America and apologised.”

The Vatican has not yet said whether the Pope will meet the victims group in Malta.

Benedict has not yet spoken out directly on the new wave of sexual abuse allegations hounding the church in numerous countries.

Meanwhile, his followers are gathered in St Peter’s Square for his 83rd birthday.

One nun said: “I express all my affection for him and I thank him for everything he says, which is really profound. I am very happy for his transparency, for his courage, for his faith and also for his meekness.”

This week the Pope did say the church needed to do “penance for its sins”, in his first indirect reference to fresh media allegations about cover-ups of abuse.

In the Pope’s native Germany victims groups have held demonstrations to draw attention to the plight of victims.