Ratzinger: Church’s critics “petty gossips”

Via the NY Times:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) — Pope Benedict, facing one of the gravest crises of his pontificate as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Church, indicated on Sunday that his faith would give him the courage not to be intimidated by critics.

The 82-year-old pontiff led tens of thousands of people in a sunny St. Peter’s Square in a Palm Sunday service at the start of Holy Week events commemorating the last days in the life of Jesus. While he did not directly mention the scandal involving sexual abuse of children by priests, parts of his sermon could be applicable to the crisis. The pontiff said faith in God helps lead one “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”

He also spoke of how man can sometimes “fall to the lowest, vulgar levels” and “sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty.”

One prayer asked God to help “the young and those who work to educate and protect them,” which Vatican Radio said was intended to “sum up the feelings of the Church at this difficult time when it confronts the plague of pedophilia.”

As the scandal has convulsed the Church, the Vatican has gone on the offensive, attacking the media for what it called an “ignoble attempt” to smear Pope Benedict and his top advisers.

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