A
crowd of 150,000 filled St Peter’s Square on Sunday to support Pope Benedict
XVI in the midst of the clerical sex abuse scandal. The Pope said that he
appreciated this “beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and
solidarity” and again denounced what he called the “sin” that
has infected the church and needs to be purified, a theme in his addresses
which has become stronger in recent weeks.

Despite
grey skies and drizzle, the crowd, mostly Italians, were enthusiastic as they
gathered for the Pope’s Sunday Angelus. Banners in Bernini’s colonnade read “Together
with the pope,” and “Don’t be afraid, Jesus won out over evil.”

According
to Associated Press, the crowd interrupted Benedict frequently with applause
and shouts of “Benedetto!” and the pontiff himself strayed from his
prepared remarks to thank them again and again.

“Thank
you for your presence and trust,” he said. “The true enemy to fear
and to fight against is sin, the spiritual evil that unfortunately sometimes
infects even members of the church.”

Rome’s
center-right Mayor Gianni Alemanno attended the demonstration. “We want to
show our solidarity to the pope and transmit the message that single
individuals make mistakes but institutions, faith and religion cannot be
questioned,” Alemanno told AP. “We will not allow this.”

Luca
Colussi, from the farmers’ union Coldiretti, said abuse allegations must be
fully investigated. “But as far we’re concerned, our members will always remain
close to the Pope as we share the same values.” ~ AP,
May 16

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.