Pope Benedict today asked "forgiveness from God" and the children abused by Catholic priests, and promised that the Catholic Church would "do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again." At a gathering of some 15,000 Catholic clergy in Rome to mark the end of the Year of the Priest, Benedict also vowed that the church would be more careful in deciding who to admit into the priesthood, Reuters reports.
But the pontiff offered a resounding rejection to calls from within the church to drop the celibacy requirement for clergy. He likened celibacy to heterosexual marriage, which he called the "foundation of Christian culture," the Los Angeles Times reports. Benedict said the abuse scandal is not a reason to abandon celibacy but rather a "a summons to purification" of the world's Catholic priests and the church as a whole. (Read more Pope Benedict XVI stories.)