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Pope Says World Must Intervene If Nations Do Not Protect Human Rights

Benedict speaks to United Nations during first official visit to U.S.; earlier, in Washington, he met with victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Pope Benedict this week made his first visit to the United States since being elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church three years ago.

President Bush met the pope on his arrival Tuesday from Rome. After events in Washington, including his eighty-first birthday, Benedict flew to New York City on Friday for three days there.

He said in a speech to the United Nations that all nations have a duty to protect people from human rights violations and humanitarian crises. If states are unable to guarantee such protection, he said, then the international community must intervene.

He said supporting human rights remains the most effective way to eliminate inequalities between countries and social groups, and to increase security.

Catholics are the largest single religious group in the United States. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimated that almost one-fourth of adults belong to the church.

A large number of American Catholics, however, have left the church or dissented from its teachings. Yet, in the last thirty years, the share of Catholics in America has remained almost unchanged. This is mainly because of Catholic immigrants, mostly from Latin America.

Throughout the week, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth expressed regret about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. He said the abuse has caused great suffering for the church in America and for him personally. He said the situation has sometimes been handled very badly.

The American church says almost fourteen thousand claims of abuse have been brought against Catholic clergy since nineteen fifty. So far, the church has paid more than two billion dollars to victims, largely in the last six years.

On Thursday the pope met with several victims and apologized to them. Reaction to the meeting was mixed. Some activists said it was just for show; others said it was an important step.

Now, we answer a question. Sholeh from Indonesia wants to know how religions compare in size in the United States.

That recent study said almost eight out of ten adults are Christian. Catholics are the largest Christian group. More than half of Christians are Protestant, but the Protestant tradition has many different denominations.

The study said less than two percent of adults in the United States are Jewish and six-tenths of one percent are Muslim. Among other religions, Buddhists and Hindus also each represent less than one percent.

The researchers found that sixteen percent of American adults do not identify with any religion. And they said a surprisingly high number of Americans change religions.

The study found that more than one-fourth of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another religion or no religion. That jumps to forty-four percent if it includes movement from one Protestant denomination to another.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.