Pope Benedict XVI steered clear of the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church during his traditional Easter Sunday message. Prelates earlier rallied around the pontiff, dismissing criticism of the Church as "idle chatter".
AFP - Pope Benedict XVI urged humankind to undergo a "spiritual and moral conversion" during his traditional Easter Sunday message as paedophile priest scandals rock the Roman Catholic Church.
"Humanity needs... a spiritual and moral conversion," the 82-year-old pope said in his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" message. "It needs... to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences."
The urging came as the paedophile priest scandals cast a pall over Easter, the most joyous day in the Christian calendar commemorating the day when Christ is believed to have been resurrected.
The pope also touched on key hot spots in the world, calling for a "true exodus" from conflict in the Middle East, "the land sanctified by (Jesus') death and resurrection."
He urged "a true and definitive 'exodus' from war and violence to peace and concord", in the Middle East.
Condemning persecution and lamenting the "suffering" of Christian minorities, he said: "May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan."
He added: "To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq... Peace be with you!"
Top prelates rallied around the pope over the paedophile priest crisis.
Easter mass kicked off with an unusual greeting from the dean of the College of Cardinals, who told the pope: "The people of God are with you and do not allow themselves to be impressed by the idle chatter of the moment."
Cardinal Angelo Sodano was reprising the same phrase the pope used a week ago when he urged Christians "not be intimidated by the idle chatter of prevailing opinions".
Holy Week around the world
Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims converged on the Holy City to take part in Easter celebrations. Here, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian pilgrim cries while holding a wooden cross during a Good Friday procession in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Bulgarian East-Orthodox believers gather around the Bible during the Good Friday service in the golden-domed Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia. (AFP)
Penitents take part in the "Cristo Salvador" brotherhood procession in Valencia, Spain. (AFP)
The Macarena Virgin is carried as part of 'La Macarena' brotherhood procession in Sevilla, Spain. (AFP)
A Greek Orthodox priest stands before an image of Jesus during the Apokathelosis, which marks the removal of Christ's body from the Cross, in a ceremony at the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Penteli, Athens. (AFP)
Pope Benedict XVI leads the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) on Good Friday. The holiest day of the liturgical calendar was clouded by persistent allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests.(AFP)
Believers stand on the side and watch men carrying a cross with a likeness of Jesus Christ during a Good Friday procession in Lohr, southern Germany. (AFP)
Indian Christians pray at Good Friday mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. Christians, for whom Easter marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, account for 2.3% of India's population. (AFP)
A Catholic devotee hangs on to a cross during a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the Petare shantytown in Caracas, Venezuela. (AFP)
"And yet it was Cardinal Ratzinger who, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, encouraged bishops to take action against paedophilia by systematically informing Rome of such cases," he told Le Parisien newspaper.
However the top bishops in both Belgium and Germany issued forthright condemnations of the Church's role in covering up for predator priests in their Easter homilies.
Belgium's Andre Joseph Leonard, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, said the Church had mismanaged the crisis "with a guilty silence".
German Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, for his part, said: "Today particularly we must set out together and examine inconceivable events, awful crimes, the Church's dark aspects as well as our shadowy sides."
Date created : 2010-04-04