Nightly News | September 18, 2010
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in London today as Pope Benedict continued his historic visit to the United Kingdom . The crowds included the faithful as well as those protesting the child abuse scandal that has rocked the church in recent years. Today the pope addressed that scandal directly. NBC 's Nina Dos Santos reports.
NINA DOS SANTOS reporting: At a Mass at London 's Westminster Cathedral , Pope Benedict made his strongest statement yet on the child abuse scandal that has dogged his papacy and shaken the Catholic Church .
Pope BENEDICT XVI: Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes.
DOS SANTOS: The pope rarely looked up from his prepared text, but his message was clear and his words powerful.
Pope BENEDICT XVI: I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered.
DOS SANTOS: Outside, 2,000 young Catholics who had traveled from far and wide to hear his voice. Young people are at the heart of the scandal. Over the years, it's alleged that thousands have been abused by priests and other church officials, and the pope has been under growing pressure to address the issue. Today he confronted it personally, meeting privately with five victims. But some say he also has to do more to punish the guilty and to prevent such abuse from happening again.
Unidentified Man: His words just seem to be really hollow because unless action follows, they do become meaningless.
DOS SANTOS: Even as the pope spoke, thousands of demonstrators gathered nearby, protesting not just the child abuse scandal, but also the position of the church on gay rights and birth control. But there was a warm welcome for the pope here as well. Across town, some 80,000 gathered to participate in a papal vigil. The crowds here at Hyde Park pose the biggest security challenge for London 's police force, already on high alert following a series of dawn raids and arrests across the capital. Despite security concerns, the pope has maintained a punishing schedule. Already he's met the queen, been serenaded by Susan Boyle and made strides in healing a centuries-old rift with the Church of England . But it's the child abuse scandal that has dominated this visit, as it has