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Pope's Meeting with Abused Disturbs Some Victims

As Pope Benedict XVI continues his first visit to the United States as pontiff, he met Thursday with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Other victims were outraged that the pope would meet with such a small, hand-picked group.

Olan Horn and Bernie McDaid were chosen to attend the meeting with Pope Benedict by the Boston Archdiocese. Both left the Catholic Church a long time ago, but as advocates for survivors and church reforms, they have earned the trust of church officials as voices of moderation.

Forty years ago, Horne and McDaid couldn't get their own local parishes to listen to their stories about clergy sexual abuse. On Thursday, they got to tell Pope Benedict — and got to hear him apologize.

Many other abuse victims — who only learned about the meeting after the fact — were outraged and saw the meeting as little more than a well-orchestrated public relations move by the pope

"If the pope really wants to make a believer out of me, he could start by removing one of the bishops who enabled the abuse, not just by talking to some of the survivors," said Ann Barrett Doyle, co-director of bishopaccountability.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.