Pope Benedict XVI finally announced today that the Vatican would take action against pedophile priests.

The historic breakthrough comes after months of non-stop revelations about the global child sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

Speaking in Rome today, the pope said the church plans to take major steps in bringing pedophile priests to justice.

The pope said he had made a solemn promise to eight abused men in Malta at the weekend as part of his trip to the Catholic island nation.

Benedict said many tears were shed at the meeting.

"I shared with them their suffering, and emotionally prayed with them, assuring them of church action," Benedict said.

Today's historic admission is the first time the church has moved to focus on victims rather than protecting the predator clerics.

Just last week a leading Swiss theologian accused Benedict of masterminding an international cover-up over the child sex abuse.

Fr Hans Kung blasted a furious missive to the Catholic bishops accusing the Pope of engineering the global cover-up.

However today's admission has raised hopes that the Vatican will finally address the problem that is ripping the church apart.

The Vatican has spent more time of late blaming media coverage for the problem and defending the Pope rather than trying to get to the root of the problem.

Leading European Jesuit journalist Andreas Batlogg said “The focus is now on victims, not on protecting the church, that I think is the breakthrough right now."

Last week, the Vatican distributed internal guidelines for handling pedophiles and stressed that any abusers found within the church should be handed over to the relevant authorities.

And in Malta, Benedict said the church would do “all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future."