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Pope Francis to meet with sex abuse victims

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(The Vatican – CNN) — For the first time as leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will meet with victims of clerical sex abuse.

The meeting Monday will take place at the pope’s private residence, a Vatican guesthouse called the Casa Santa Marta. Six victims from several European countries will meet with Francis.

No formal statement will be made until after the meeting, the Vatican said.

“It is important that we respect the delicate nature of such a meeting and the dignity and privacy of those involved,” the Vatican said.

Francis became pope in March 2013. While critics have said he should have met with victims earlier, Pope Francis has said he believes the Church has been unfairly attacked.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, was asked by the pope to help organize the meeting, the cardinal’s spokesman said.

O’Malley is a member of a new commission spearheaded by Pope Francis — the Commission for the Protection of Minors — to advise him on ways to help move forward after the Church’s sex abuse crisis.

One member of the group is a woman who was a sex abuse victim.

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