Pope: sex abuse 'scourge' for all society

By the Associated Press | November 26, 2011 | 7:35 AM EST

Pope Benedict XVI holds an audience for members of the Caritas, in St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI says the global economic crisis requires a courageous show of brotherhood. Benedict also expressed concern in a speech Thursday at the Vatican that there is a risk that hope will diminish amid the growing troubles, including the uncertainty that young people feel amid the economic crisis. The pope said "humanity is searching for signs of hope." (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI says all institutions and not just the church should be held to exacting standards in the response against sex abuse.

Benedict told U.S. bishops Saturday that the pedophilia scandals were a "scourge" for society and said the Catholic church was making "conscientious efforts" to confront the problem.

He acknowledged that decades of scandals involving clergy's sexual abuse of young people had disoriented faithful in the United States.