The pope met with sexual abuse victims in Malta on April 18. Many of those present reported seeing tears in his eyes and a spokesman for the victim's group, according to Catholic Culture, says he can "feel like a convinced Catholic again."
Perhaps I'm a bit lacking in faith in the media right now but I doubt that this will be reported as a sincere gesture on the part of Pope Benedict. Instead I'm guessing that, if not explicitly stated, this will be seen as a patronizing publicity stunt or seen as the pope somehow “caving” to the righteous pressure placed on him.
In the first case, every decent public figure knows hat to win back the good will of the world is to prolifically apologize to a select few of those they've hurt. In politics that often makes the matter go away. Hey, whip up a few tears and you've got a deal-sealer, right? This is the catch 22 of a man the media doesn't like; if you don't apologize you're an uncaring menace but if you do apologize you're accused of trying to drum up PR.
In a way, those who see the pope's visit as sincere may draw an even more hurtful conclusion; that all the pressure, hype, and allegations against the pope (like threatening to bomb the Vatican or have the pope arrested) have worked. This mastermind of orchestrated abuse may have finally caved.
To me, Pope Benedict looks like a shamed and sorrowful father whose children were caught doing terrible things. He's done inarguably more as head of Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faithful and as pope to rid the Church of predators. His efforts are transparent and documented.
But look at how he's been treated in the last few weeks. I'm very glad he met those who were hurt by the Church in Malta. I pray this was a healing time for them and for all who have been abused by the men they trusted. I just think I know how many people are going to perceive it.