"--IANS/EFE"
Vatican City, July 7 (IANS/EFE) Pope Francis held a historic meeting Monday with six victims of sexual abuse by clergymen of the Catholic church, and asked forgiveness for the sins of neglect committed in the way church leaders dealt with their cases.

I humbly beg forgiveness, said the pope, who admitted that the church had not responded adequately to the abuse claims made by the victims and their relatives.

The six victims, three men and three women, whose identities were not provided, attended a mass by the Pope in his residence, the Santa Marta House.

The pope then met privately with each one of them, Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi told reporters.

Lombardi noted that the pope's words were a message of hope and courage for all the victims of sexual abuse in the world and he did not rule out more meetings in the future.

The sexual assault victims are two Germans, two English and two Irish, who arrived in the Vatican Sunday for the first meeting of its kind with the pope since he was named to the post in March 2013.

Pope Francis announced his intentions to hold these encounters during his visit to Jerusalem May 27, when he strongly condemned the abuses committed by clergymen against minors.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vm


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