The comments came in an 11-page letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who had written a book about the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church before the pope resigned in February.
"As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things," Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope, said. Excerpts of his letter were published in La Repubblica yesterday, with his permission.
It is believed to be the first time Benedict has responded to the sexual abuse accusations in the first person.
Victims groups have accused Benedict of not doing enough to stop the abuse of children, while he was pope and as head of the Vatican's doctrinal office.