The Pope appears to have alluded to the sex abuse scandal engulfing the church, indicating he will not be intimidated by what he calls “petty gossip”.
During a Palm Sunday service in St Peter’s Square, the pontiff did not directly mention the scandal.
But he said “man can choose an easy road pushing aside all efforts, and can even fall to what he calls the lowest, vulgar levels and sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty”.
But he went on: “Jesus encourages us towards that which is pure and great, towards a life of truth, towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”
The Vatican and the Pope himself are facing growing criticism over the cover-up of sex abuse scandals. But people had supportive words for him in St Peter’s Square.
“I’m in total agreement with what the pope has been saying so far,” said one woman. “We came here to be encouraged in our faith. We’re not interested in all the rest.”
A woman from the US said: I think he is doing a wonderful job. I think it’s tragic what has happened around the world, but I think he has dealt with the situation very well.”
The Vatican is on the offensive, attacking the media for what it calls an ignoble attempt to smear the Pope.