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The pontiff said the crisis over paedophile priests was “born from sins within the church” not outside, and called for penance.
In some of his strongest comments to date, Pope Benedict said the Catholic church had always suffered from internal problems, but that “today we see it in a truly terrifying way”.
“The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice,” he said.
“Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies but is born of sin within the Church,” Benedict told reporters on the plane to Portugal, replying to a question about the scandal.
In recent weeks, a number of Vatican officials have accused the media, gays or progressives of waging a smear campaign against the Church. One top Vatican official even dismissed reports of a cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests as “petty gossip.”
The 83-year-old German pontiff, facing the worst crisis of his five-year-old papacy, said the Church had to seek forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse but also recognized that “forgiveness cannot be a substitute for justice.”
Fantastic. God bless him. You cannot imagine John Paul being so honest about this crisis. Whatever faults one might point to, I don’t see that there is anybody better positioned to fix what’s broken. God grant him many years.