Speaking en route to Portugal at the start of a four day
visit, the pontiff made it clear that he believed the sins of the church ?
and not outsiders ? were responsible for the clerical abuse scandal.
?Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the
church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins
within the church," the 83-year-old said. "The church needs to profoundly
relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice."
His comments represent a significant sea-change in the Vatican?s approach to
the ongoing child abuse scandals that have thrust the Roman Catholic Church
into one of its worst crises in living memory.
When historical and current day abuse accusations broke out en masse across
Western Europe at the beginning of the year, key Vatican officials
repeatedly accused the media, secularists and pro-gay/pro-choice lobbies of
launching a hate campaign against Rome.