Pope Apologizes for Australian Clergy Sex Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI apologized Saturday to victims of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, describing their acts as "evil" and a grave betrayal of trust.

"I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country," Benedict said during an address at a Mass in Australia.

"I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured," the pope said. "I assure them as their pastor that I too share in their suffering."

He said those responsible for these "evils must be brought to justice."

Support groups for victims of church abuse in Australia, whose numbers are not known but who activists say are in the thousands, had demanded the pope make a full and open apology for clergy abuse and do more to prevent future abuse.

The pontiff is in Australia to lead hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in the church's World Youth Day, a global celebration meant to inspire a new generation of Catholics.

There was no immediate word whether Benedict would meet with victims of clergy abuse, as he did during his trip to the United States in April, when he also expressed his shame for the scandal.