Published: Apr 21, 2010 10:28 AM EDT

      VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has promised "church
action" to confront the clerical abuse scandal.
      Benedict told his weekly public audience Wednesday in St.
Peter's Square that he had told victims of abuse during his recent
trip to Malta that he "shared their suffering ... assuring them of
church action."
      Benedict met Sunday with eight Maltese men who say they were
abused by priests as children. The Vatican issued a statement
saying Benedict had told the men during the private meeting that
the church would do everything in its power to bring justice to
abusive priests and would implement "effective measures" to
protect children.
      Benedict's words Wednesday are his first public comment on the
scandal, although he called for repentence last week.