Pope, in Britain, admits failures in abuse scandal

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The main U.S. victim’s group dismissed Benedict’s comments as disingenuous, noting that the only real action the Vatican has taken has been to tell bishops to report abuse to police if local laws require them to do so.

“Bishops across the world continue to deliberately choose secrecy and deception over safety and honesty in child sex cases,” said Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Vatican officials haven’t confirmed that Benedict will meet with abuse victims while in Britain, but U.K. organizers say arrangements are being made.

Only 65,000 of the faithful are expected to attend an open air Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow later Thursday, compared to the 100,000 previously expected. Susan Boyle, the “Britain’s Got Talent” reality show star who shot to global fame last year, will sing at the Mass.

A beatification event will follow on Sunday for Cardinal John Newman in Birmingham, which will see the 19th-century English philosopher take a step on his way to sainthood.

The bookish Benedict lacks the charisma of his predecessor John Paul II, who pulled in a crowd of 250,000 for Mass at the same Glasgow park.

Scotland has about 850,000 Catholics, but 27 percent of Scots — about 1.5 million — did not register a religion or said they were atheists.

The Humanist Society of Scotland placed billboards between Edinburgh and Glasgow that read: “Two million Scots are good without God.” It also took exception to the pope’s comment Thursday about the Nazis.

“The notion that it was the atheism of Nazis that led to their extremist and hateful views or that somehow fuels intolerance in Britain today is a terrible libel against those who do not believe in God,” the group said.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, responded that Benedict — who was forced to serve as a Nazi Youth — choses his words wisely. “You can agree or not, but I think the pope knows very well what the Nazi ideology was,” Lombardi said.

Associated Press reporter Ben McConville in Edinburgh and Victor L. Simpson and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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