By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tEn route to a May 11-14 visit to Portugal, Benedict XVI called the reality of the sexual abuse crisis “terrifying” and said that the greatest persecution of the church comes not from external attacks but from sin within the church.
Benedict's insistence that the real problem is internal seemed to distance the pope from other senior Vatican officials, who in recent weeks have blamed the media and other parties for unjust criticism of the Catholic church.
tWhile those comments came in response to a question, the questions were submitted to the Vatican by reporters covering the trip several days in advance – suggesting that Benedict wanted to address the crisis and chose his words carefully, rather than being caught off guard.
tBenedict also said that while forgiveness must be part of the church’s response to the crisis, that must not come at the expense of justice.
In total, the pope’s session with the press this morning lasted approximately 16 minutes. Beyond the sexual abuse crisis, Benedict also touched upon the relationship between secularism and religious faith as well as Europe's current economic turmoil.