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Pope Francis apologizes to victims of church sex abuse scandal

At the Vatican, an apology from Pope Francis to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) POPE FRANCIS SAYING: "It causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It goes beyond just despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult. Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves." His remarks came on the heels of a meeting with victims at the Vatican, his first since becoming Pontiff. Some say it's too little too late. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella saying. "The Pope has come under a bit of criticism for waiting so long almost sixteen months since his election before having a meeting with sexual abuse victims. We have to remember that his predecessor Pope Benedict, now former Pope Benedict had several meetings with abuse victims on various trips when he was outside of Italy." Details about the meeting probably won't be made public says Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella saying. "There were six people who attended his morning mass, two from Britain, two from Ireland and two from Germany. Afterwards they had private meetings with him." In St. Peter's Square, the response was mostly positive. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM LUXEMBOURG, EUGENE PRIM, SAYING: "I think it is a crime what happened before but I think this pope is a new pope and he is really taking care to look into the problem and to find out why it happened and I think now he is reacting now. Talking to the people, I think this is very important at this stage. And then I suppose he finds measures to stop this for the future." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH TOURIST, HELENA HERNANDEZ, SAYING: "The victims need respect, we must see how the church moves forward. Up until now nothing has been done and there hasn't been respect." The Vatican in the past decade has defrocked 824 clerics and in the U.S. alone, paid $2.5 billion in compensation to victims.