Pope Benedict, who is still trying to come to grips with the sex abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church, used his visit to one of its holiest sites in Portugal to pray for tempted priests.
Thousands of Catholic faithful turned out to welcome him to the shrine of Fatima where the Madonna is said to have appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.
It was described as the highlight so far of his four-day visit during which the pontiff indirectly referred to the scandal by urging his clergy to reject the temptations of the devil.
“ Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully in keeping with that which is proper for a Minister of Jesus Christ,” warned Pope Benedict.
He also gave thanks to the saving of his predecessor John Paul II from an assassination attempt in 1981, the foretelling of which is supposed to have been revealed by the Virgin Mary in Fatima.