VATICAN CITY, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI says in a Vatican statement the Catholic Church must make it a top priority to help victims who were sexually abused by clergy members.
A statement, issued by the Vatican at an international symposium that opened Monday at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said the church must seek a "profound renewal," the Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday.
The four-day meeting, titled "Toward Healing and Renewal," featuring medical professionals, international Catholic delegates and religious leaders, is aimed at improving efforts to stop clerical sexual abuse and better protect children and vulnerable adults.
"As his holiness has often observed, healing for victims must be of paramount concern in the Christian community, and it must go hand in hand with a profound renewal of the church at every level ...," the Vatican said in a statement. "He urges the participants in the symposium to continue drawing on a wide range of expertise in order to promote throughout the church a vigorous culture of effective safeguarding and victim support."
Catholic News Service said the church plans to launch an online resource called the Center for the Protection of Children, offered in five languages, designed to help church leaders respond to the issue of sexual abuse in the church and society as a whole.