Pope John Paul II has urged US bishops to give more guidance to Catholic priests in their country, to prevent another child sexual abuse scandal.
Thousands of priests across the US have been accused since the 1950s
In an address to bishops from the north-eastern states at the heart of the scandal, the Pope said the crisis had "cast a shadow" on the Church.
And he asked them to encourage their flock to persevere in their faith.
A Church report earlier this year said more than 4,000 US priests had faced sex abuse claims in the last 50 years.
It said more than 10,000 children - a large majority of them boys - were allegedly abused, but victims' representatives said this was an underestimate.
The US bishops met with
the Pope at his summer residence in Italy as part of a visit
required of all bishops every five years.
The Pope told them the US Church "has been chastened" by the
events of the past two years, when the scandal first erupted.
"Much effort has rightly
been expended on understanding and addressing the issues of
sexual abuse which have cast a shadow on her life and
ministry," he said.
The Pope asked the bishops to be "strongly
supportive" of those priests who are suffering from "the
much-publicised failings" of some of their fellow
And he called on the clergy to work for greater dialogue with other faiths in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks.