5 Dec 2010

Catholic faithful demonstrate support for Pope and church over the clergy crimes scandal

Google News - Associated Press May 16, 2010

Thousands flock to Vatican to back pope over abuse


VATICAN CITY — A crowd estimated by the Vatican at 150,000 filled St. Peter's Square on Sunday in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Benedict said he was comforted by such a "beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity" and again denounced what he called the "sin" that has infected the church and needs to be purified.

Citing estimates from Vatican police, the Vatican press office said 150,000 people had turned out for the demonstration organized by an association of 68 Italian lay groups.

Despite a drizzling rain, the balloon- and banner-toting faithful from around Italy overflowed from the piazza; banners hung up on Bernini's colonnade encircling the piazza read "Together with the pope," and "Don't be afraid, Jesus won out over evil."

Such large crowds are usually reserved for major holiday Masses and canonizations, not for Benedict's brief Sunday blessings from his studio window. The crowd interrupted Benedict frequently with applause and shouts of "Benedetto!" and the pontiff himself strayed from his prepared remarks to thank them again and again.

"Thank you for your presence and trust," he said. "All of Italy is here."

Benedict didn't refer explicitly to the scandal, but repeated his recently stated position that the scandal was born of sins within the church, which must be purified.

"The true enemy to fear and to fight against is sin, the spiritual evil that unfortunately sometimes infects even members of the church," he said.

The Vatican has been mired in scandal amid hundreds of reports in Europe, the United States and elsewhere of priests who raped and molested children while bishops and Vatican officials turned a blind eye. Benedict's own handling of cases has also come under fire.

Rome's center-right Mayor Gianni Alemanno was in the crowd, along with other pro-Vatican Italian officials.

"We want to show our solidarity to the pope and transmit the message that single individuals make mistakes but institutions, faith and religion cannot be questioned," Alemanno told Associated Press Television News. "We will not allow this."

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Reuters - May 16, 2010

Pope tells crowd priests must resist temptation

VATICAN CITY, May 16 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, facing the worst crisis of his five-year-old papacy because of a widening sexual abuse scandal, told a crowd of nearly 200,000 on Sunday that priests must guard against worldly temptation.

Benedict said such tests should drive Catholics to greater spiritual fervour and stricter adherence to Church rules.

"The real enemy to fear and to fight is sin, spiritual ill, which sometimes unfortunately affects even members of the Church," the 83-year-old German pontiff told the crowd gathered in St Peters square.

"We live in the world but we are not of the world, even if we must guard against its temptations," he said. "The tests that the Lord provides drive us to greater fervour and consistency."

Benedict’s tone marked an extension of the latest change in the Vatican’s response to the abuse scandal, which has forced the resignation of bishops in Ireland, Belgium and Germany.

In recent weeks, a number of Vatican officials had accused the media, gays or progressives of waging a smear campaign against the Church.

However, earlier last week the Pope said during a trip to Portugal that Catholicism’s greatest threat came from "sins within the Church" and he acknowledged it must seek forgiveness, though this was no substitute for justice.

Sunday’s demonstration of support, organised by an Italian Catholic lay association, brought nearly 200,000 people to the wide circular space before St. Peters basilica.

Many of those who came from across Italy waved banners such as "The people of Rome with the Holy Father" or "Renewing the Holy Spirit".

"Thank you for your presence and your faith," the pope told the crowd, which interrupted his speech with applause. "Today you demonstrate the great affection and closeness of the Church and the Italian people to the pope and your priests."

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian bishops conference and a close collaborator of the pope’s, said the Church "purified by penitence should be a place of justice and comfort for the faithful".

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