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Pope Defends Himself Through Sermon

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March 30, 2010 Crime And Trials, News & Oddities No Comments

While facing the worst crisis of his papacy as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Catholic church, Pope Benedict declared today he would not be “intimidated” by “petty gossip”, angering activists who say he has done too little to stamp out paedophilia, reports The Guardian.

During the Palm Sunday service, the pope did not directly mention the scandal spreading though Europe and engulfing the Vatican, but instead alluded to it during his sermon. Faith in God, he said, led “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion”.

Benedict came under attack after it was revealed that he had been involved in dealing with two cases of abuse. In the first a German priest in therapy for paedophilia returned to work with children while the pope was archbishop of Munich. In the second, in the late 1990s when Benedict was a senior Vatican figure, his deputy stopped a church trial against a Wisconsin priest accused of abusing deaf boys.

Church officials say Benedict was unaware the German priest had returned to work and the Wisconsin case was reported to the Vatican 20 years after the fact.

The Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, has accused the media of a “clear and ignoble intent of trying to strike Benedict and his closest collaborators”.

But activists said they were angered by Benedict’s talk of intimidation today. “I hope this doesn’t fit into a pattern where the media is to be blamed,” said Sean O’Conaill of Voice of the Faithful, a group, which has campaigned for abuse victims. “The real courage needed here is to face issues the media has revealed.”

What does this reaction mean in the face of the church’s possibly weakened moral authority? (Read our article on the topic, Abuse Scandal Revelations: Affecting Church’s Moral Authority.) We are curious, and will wait and see.

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