updated 10/28/2006 8:29:18 AM ET 2006-10-28T12:29:18

Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that the church must urgently rebuild confidence and trust damaged by clerical sex abuse scandals, which have created deep wounds.

The pope made the remarks to a group of visiting bishops from Ireland, an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country where the church has been damaged by sex abuse scandals over the past decade.

“In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors,” the pontiff told the bishops. “These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.”

“The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged,” Benedict said.

Benedict told the bishops that as they continue to deal with the problem, “it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.”

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