Pope Francis expressed his "personal sadness and sorrow" for those sexually abused by priests in a rare roundtable meeting with Australian bishops last month.
The Catholic Bishop of Ballarat, Paul Bird, was at the table, and asked Pope Francis to pray for the diocese.
"He really did express a very deep sadness at any abuse of a child, and I suppose he was trying to express his compassion for those who suffered and I asked him to pray with us, basically, for those who suffered both directly and indirectly - the families or the whole community, as we're very conscious of in Ballarat," he said.
"He was very much in tune with that, I think, expressing his personal sadness and sorrow."
Bishop Bird was in the Vatican for the Ad Limina Apostolorum pilgrimage, which all bishops must regularly complete - this is the first time Australian bishops have visited since 2011.
The 38 bishops also visited several Vatican departments and dicastries, including the Council for the Protection of Minors.
"We met the Pope on the Monday morning, then later that afternoon we met that Council for the Protection of Minors, and it was there we talked about the steps that had been taken in Australia," Bishop Bird explained.
"In Victoria, for example, we had that Victorian inquiry, then there are standards set by the Victoiran government which we as a church had adopted and put into policies and procedures for that.
"And then, they were really expanded when the Royal Commission had their national inquiry.
I asked him to pray with us for those who suffered directly and indirectly - the families or the whole community, as we're very conscious of in BallaratBishop Paul Bird
"We've adopted those, and currently we're having an audit, that's coming up towards the final meetings in a few weeks time - we're having an audit of how that is being implemented in the diocese, both in the parishes and in the schools and social services."
He noted there would likely be an Australian contribution to the Council's major project promoting "best practice" in protecting children.
"I think the Australian experience will be helpful for that - they will draw on that, and the idea is that if you can share good examples, so people around the world, as in every field, can help everybody and they don't have to reinvent the wheel," he said.
Several other matters were discussed during the two hour meeting, including Indigenous Catholic communities in northern Australia, and Eastern Rites communities.
However, what impressed the Bishop Bird was the informal way Pope Francis greeted each bishop when they arrived.
"He tends to wish to be fairly informal, and we were even encouraged about that, as just before we went in to see him, the priest who was just making the final arrangements says that the Pope really just prefers to shake hands rather than any other formal ways of bowing or whatever, just to shake hands with everybody, he shook hands with everybody as we came in and had a few words with each one," he said.
"In those few moments, (I) brought him good wishes from the people of the diocese here - a few people had asked me to say hello to the Pope for them - so I brought him good wishes, which I was very happy to do, and he expressed his thanks."
This approach reflects a new way of operating in the Vatican.
"Just the fact the Pope was there welcoming people as they came in, there were some little touches that sets the tone for the whole operation.
"He did even refer to the traditional formalities of the Vatican which would have been more emphasised in days gone by."
This openness will translate to day-to-day matters in the diocese, and Bishop Paul said he felt encouraged after the meeting.
"Closeness to people - that's a term he uses constantly," he said.
"In one fine photo I saw, a few days before our meeting, was the Pope reaching out to a child in the crowd, and that's an image of what Pope Francis is seeking to do, that really is what the Pope and the bishops and the priests are meant to do, and when there develops a distance, especially a sense of being above the general population, then it's gone astray.
"That goes way back to the gospels, when the apostles, the first disciples, started arguing which one was the greatest, and Jesus said it shouldn't be that among you.
"In general, the rulers in the world lord it over people and it's not meant to be you, the greatest among you must be your servant.
"I think that's one of the finest titles of the Pope, servant of the servants of God.
"You might say it's a radical change, but it's radical only in that it's going down to the root of things.
"It's not a completely new idea, it's recovering a very old idea.
"In that regard, as far as serving rather than lording it over people is getting back on track again."
The Catholic Church still had work to do to regain the trust of the broader community, and Bishop Bird said he was heartened by initiatives to help the homeless and protect the environment.
"I'm pleased that in local parishes you've got people who have preserved their trust basically in the community, so you've got a commitment not just to the priest but to the community that's been preserved," he said.
"The more that we can act properly, the more we're likely to build trust up again."
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