Pope Benedict XVI, 82, acknowledged the Roman Catholic Church is in “times of difficulty” but avoided direct comment on sex abuse, as the Vatican faced fresh criticism over the scandal.
After a series of paedophile revelations which cast a pall over the holiest week in the Christian calendar, the embattled pontiff spoke of priests’ special responsibility to society in an Easter Monday prayer.
Benedict told hundreds of followers at Castel Gandolfo near Rome that “the loving presence (of Christ) accompanies the Church on its path and supports it in times of difficulty”. “Priests, ministers of Christ, have a special responsibility”, pope said appearing calm and smiling, adding that they should be “messengers of victory over evil and death”.
But Benedict again stayed silent on the abuse scandal, which has reached the pope himself with claims that he helped shield predator priests when head of the Vatican’s moral watchdog and as archbishop of Munich.