May 16th, 2010
09:44 AM ET

Big crowd hears pope talk about abuse scandal

Massive crowds turned out for Pope Benedict XVI's weekly address Sunday, following a call from the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference to support the pontiff.

More than 150,000 people flooded into St. Peter's Square, the Vatican said. That's about five times as many as usually turn out on an ordinary Sunday.

The pope thanked the pilgrims and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, for organizing the huge turnout.

"The real enemy to fear and fight is sin, the spiritual evil, that sometimes, unfortunately, contaminates even members of the church," Benedict said, in an echo of remarks he made last week about the child-abuse scandal sweeping the church.

The crowds included many Italian lawmakers, said journalist Franca Giansoldati, who was on the scene for the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. She said there were two or three times as many members of parliament there Sunday as turned out for a special day the Vatican dedicated to politicians in 2000.

The bishops issued a call about a month ago to dozens of Catholic lay organizations to come support the pope.

The summons came at the height of a scandal over the abuse of children by Catholic priests around Europe and the United States.

Critics accused the pope personally of not doing enough to stop the abuse and punish the guilty.

Benedict has repeatedly assured victims the church will take action on the scandal.

En route to Portugal on Tuesday, he called the reality of the scandal "terrifying."

"The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice," he told journalists on his plane.

Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops conference, published a special edition Sunday, picturing the pope on the cover amid cheering crowds, and with the headline: "With you."

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Filed under: Italy
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Flabbergasted

    The pope is a sick sick man. I hope he's arrested

    May 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CH

    I think that there is no hope for people. Its very clear that the Pope has committed disgusting crimes that the Catholic Church would vehemently, denounce in the name of god, had somebody else been the culprit. But now the slimeball has turned out to be their infallible Pope, yet they still support him. Catholics can only fanatically and desperately defend a religion that is outdated, ridiculous, and even immoral.

    May 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    Most CEOs who have so horribly mismanaged their corporation would be forced to resign by their shareholders but the RCC board is too corrupt to let that happen.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dcng

      Then it's a good thing the Catholic Church is in the faith biz isn't it jim??? I'm thinking the Chairman of the Board ain't gonna let anything bad happen to Pope BXVI.

      May 16, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. STEVE

    It's no surprise the local Lay groups, Politicians, etc turned out to support the Pope and the Catholic Church. If I lived in Orlando Florida and Disney or Universal Studios was under fire, I'd turn out too. Hey, the Catholic Church brings in BIG BUCKS to Rome (Tourism, Vatican maintenance, etc). Is there any wonder???

    May 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. STEVE

    Let's do what the Chinese did years ago. They forced "disengagement" of the Chinese Catholic church from Rome. That way money from the poor did not flow out and RCC propaganda and political interference did not flow in. The Chinese were smart. Maybe it's time the US gets smart.

    May 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed

    For an ex-Nazi prison camp guard, he's trying real hard to be sincere.
    As the saying goes, "Once you can fake sincerity, you've got it made".

    May 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alex

    I think religion does more harm than good. The presumptuous figure of the pope is just an example. People actually believe that he communicates directly with god. So when he asks them to bare with him on all the unfortunate child molestation cases, the flock just obeys. They can't see that the whole organization is rotten to the core, as if a ridiculous white hat and gown were enough to hide all the disfunction and deception.

    May 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dcng

    The Body of Christ is amazing. Thanks be to God for this outpouring of support for our Holy Father. The huge amount of coverage and pain that the news is reporting about the horrific events of child abuse and the fact that everyone wants to weigh in really does give hope that we really are ALL Catholic.

    May 16, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sumurut

    Let us support the church...

    May 16, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shelby

    'The real enemy to fear is sin'

    Convenient how the blame can be placed on something that only applies to those who believe in it.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. DDL

    It makes me laugh of these so call experts, you have no idea.
    God bless the Holy Father.

    May 17, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. chief

    i think it would have been better to have the thousands of abuse victoms in the square ...

    May 17, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lyndall

    Big help, big help. And suerlptaive news of course.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pqcpwbv

    gMeZ9U lycuioujadne

    September 10, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
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