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Pope: Church has not been vigilant enough on child abuse

Pope Benedict is met by the Duke of Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire)

The Holy Father has arrived in Edinburgh for the first state visit of a pontiff to Britain.

Pope Benedict’s Alitalia Airbus 320 touched down at Edinburgh airport at 10.16 this morning, where he was greeted by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The papal plane “Shepherd 1” touched down in Britain 14 minutes ahead of schedule. Soon after 10,30am the Holy Father appeared at the top of the stairs, marking the first papal visit since John Paul II’s 1982 pastoral visit. There was no kissing of the tarmac by this pope, nor, because of the wind, was there a red carpet.

On board the papal plane the Pope told journalists that the Church “had not been vigilant enough” on the issue of paedophile priests.

The clerical child abuse revelations “were a shock to me”, he said, and the Church “should offer help to victims”, protect children and stop paedophile priests from having future contact with children.

The Pope also issued a statement saying the “Catholic Church has not been vigilant enough on paedophilia”.

Just after 11am he met the Queen at Holyrood Palace, where the Vatican and British national anthems were played in a historic moment both in Scottish and British history. After an exchange of gifts, in which the Pope presented the Queen with an eighth-century codex, and was given Hans Holbein prints in exchange, the two had a private audience.