FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2006 file picture Pope Benedict XVI, right, walks with his brother priest Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg, southern Germany. The pope's brother says in a newspaper interview that he slapped pupils across the face after he took over a renowned German boys' choir in the 1960s. He also says he was aware of allegations of physical abuse at an elementary school linked to the choir, but did nothing about it. In an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse published Tuesday March 9, 2010 , he said "repeatedly administered a slap in the face" to pupils at the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir. He says it was common then and he stopped after Germany banned corporal punishment in 1980. (AP Photo/Diether Endlicher,File)
VALLETTA, Malta (AP) -- With tears in his eyes, Pope Benedict XVI made his most personal gesture yet to respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal Sunday, telling victims the church will do everything possible to protect children and bring abusive priests to justice, the Vatican said.
The emotional moment carried no new admissions from the Vatican, which has strongly rejected accusations that efforts to cover up for abusive priests were directed by the church hierarchy for decades. But the pontiff told the men that the church would "implement effective measures" to protect children, the Vatican said, without offering details.
Benedict met for more than a half-hour with eight Maltese men who say they were abused by four priests when they were boys living at a Catholic orphanage. During the meeting in the chapel at the Vatican's embassy here, Benedict expressed his "shame and sorrow" at the pain the men and their families suffered, the Vatican said.
"Everybody was crying," one of the men, Joseph Magro, 38, told Associated Press Television News after the meeting. "I told him my name was Joseph, and he had tears in his eyes."
The visit - which came on the second day of Benedict's two-day trip to this largely Roman Catholic island - marked the first time Benedict had met with abuse victims since the worldwide clerical abuse scandal engulfed the Vatican earlier this year.