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Pope: God weeps for victims of clerical sexual abuse

Speaking on the final day of his first US trip Pope Francis used an address in Philadelphia to tell gathered bishops that 'God weeps' for the victims of clerical sexual abuse and those responsible will be 'punished'.

The Pope's comments came after he met with abuse victims and the day after he led a packed Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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Life prison sentences a 'hidden death penalty', says Pope

Pope Francis arrived in the US on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis has described life imprisonment as being like a "hidden death penalty" as he began his first visit to the United States.

Ahead of becoming the first pope to address Congress on Thursday, he remained tight-lipped on the contents of the speech, amid much speculation about what he might say about the US trade embargo on Cuba.

Speaking to reporters on his flight from Cuba, he expressed distress at long prison sentences, saying: "Life imprisonment is almost a hidden death penalty. You are there and you are dying every day without any hope of freedom."

On the subject of his speech, he said it would address "bi-lateral relations and multi-national relations as a sign of progress and coexistence".

Discussing US relations with Cuba, he said: "My desire is that they end up with a good result, that they reach an accord that satisfies both sides, an accord, certainly."

On Friday, the US announced new rules that further eased trade with the Communist-run island.

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