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Australian victims' group 'welcomes pope's resignation'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An Australian group representing the victims of sexual abuse has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, saying he had done little to stop "the reign of terror of child rapist priests", a report said.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement calling for the next pontiff to be more cooperative with inquiries into abuse claims, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Spokeswoman Nicky Davis said: "Victims welcome the resignation of a church official with immense power who has done so little to stop the reign of terror of child rapist priests.

"In the eyes of many victims, Joseph Ratzinger has personally done much to add to the huge number of victims and exponentially increase the suffering of those already harmed."

The 85-year-old pope announced on Monday he would resign because of health reasons, prompting an outpouring of reaction across the world.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was an "historic moment which many Australian Catholics will greet with great emotion".

"On his election, Joseph Ratzinger said he wished to be 'a simple humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' and in his resignation that humility has been amply demonstrated," she added, according to AAP.

But the Church has come under the spotlight in recent times over allegations that it had covered up sexual abuse of children to protect paedophiles and its own reputation.

In November, Gillard announced a royal commission to investigate the responses of all religious organisations, schools and state care to allegations of abuse.

The following month the Sydney Archbishop George Pell, the country's most senior Catholic cleric apologised to those who "suffered at the hands" of priests and religious teachers.

Davis said that with the royal commission about to begin its work, it is important that Catholic officials replace the Pope with someone who will co-operate with legal requests for documents.

"It is high time the head of the Catholic Church ceases to hide child sex crimes behind a facade of diplomatic immunity dependent upon specious claims to be a sovereign state, not a religious institution," she said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130211/australian-victims-group-welcomes-popes-resignation