Pope Calls for Special Prayers for Clergy Sex Abuse Victims

Pope Benedict XVI has called on Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of clergy who have sexually abused minors, The Times of London reports.

Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct special prayer sessions worldwide for the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

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A Vatican cardinal sent out a letter to bishops urging them to promote initiatives in their dioceses for special prayers, Cardinal Claudio Hummes said in an interview published in Saturday's edition of Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano. He did not indicate when such initiatives might begin.

"There have always been problems because we are all sinners," said Hummes, who heads the Vatican office overseeing priests worldwide.

"But in these times some truly very grave deeds have come to light," he said in a reference to the scandals of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Many dioceses around the world, particularly in the United States, have been shaken by sex abuse scandals in the last few years.

"Obviously one must always keep in mind that only a minimal part of the clergy has been involved in grave situations," Hummes said. "Not even 1 percent is involved with problems of moral and sexual conduct."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.