Huge crowds stand by Pope in church's troubled times
More than 100,000 people filled St Peter's Square yesterday in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI (pictured) over the clerical sex abuse scandal.
A clearly emotional Pope Benedict said he was comforted by such a "beautiful and spontaneous show of faith and solidarity" and again denounced what he called the "sin" that had infected the church.
The Vatican press office said 150,000 people had turned out for the demonstration. Banners read 'Together with the Pope', and 'Don't be afraid, Jesus won out over evil'. "We are here to show both to other people and to ourselves our solidarity with the church in this difficult time," said 24-year-old Simone Pleticos.
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. "All of Italy is here."
Benedict didn't refer explicitly to the scandal, but repeated his recently stated position that it was born of sins within the church, which must be purified.