Thousands flock to Vatican to back pope over abuse

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 16, 2010 14:30

 
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Tens of thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square on Sunday in a massive show of solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

An association of 68 Italian lay groups organized the demonstration, which despite a drizzling rain overflowed out of the piazza with balloon- and banner-toting faithful from around Italy. 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."

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.

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