"Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies, but is born of sin within the Church," the pontiff told reporters on a plane bound for Portugal.I often hear other's talk about how the media or secular society is blowing the abuse scandal out of proportion. I've heard that protestants have similar issues with their ministers that you rarely reported on in the media. Or that public school teachers abuse children at rates equal to, or exceeding, what we see about in the Church without the same level of legal prosecution.
His comments were his most direct response to press questions, and some of his strongest words yet on the abuse scandal, says the BBC's Vatican Correspondent, who is travelling with the Pope.
Benedict said the Church has "a very deep need" to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and "accept purification".
However, he added that forgiveness should not be a substitute for justice.
Both points may be very true, I have no reason not to believe either, but so what? The fact that any number of the Holy Church's Bishops and priests would do anything like this should shock us all beyond pointing to other's sins to distract us from, or make excuses for, our own.
When the Pope refers to the situation as "terrifying" and speaks of the Church having "a very deep need" to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and "accept purification", we would do well to listen.