As the Roman Catholic Church gears up for Easter – the holiest festival in its calendar – the child sex abuse scandal which has dogged it for weeks shows no sign of abating.
Dragged deeper than ever into the furore, the Vatican has launched a legal defence that it hopes will shield the Pope from a lawsuit in the US.
Lawyers plan to argue that as head of state, the Pope has immunity.
They want the case dismissed before documents can be subpoenaed and Benedict the 16th called to testify.
Meanwhile, a prominent Austrian cardinal has acknowledged the Catholic Church’s guilt and asked for forgiveness.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn spoke out during a special service in Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral.
“We confess that we did not want to acknowledge reality, that we kept the truth secret and we covered things up so that some of us were able to carry on lying and continue with their crimes.”
Schoenborn, who has taken the lead in denouncing the scandal and demanding reform, has announced the creation of an independent and clergy-free commission, headed by a woman.
Its aim would be to strengthen church guidelines for dealing with sex abuse.