CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy: April 5, 2010. (AP) Pope Benedict XVI urged priests on Monday to be messengers of a love that conquers evil and said Christ supports the church at times of difficulty
Speaking from his papal retreat near Rome, Benedict did not directly address the clerical sex abuse scandal that is rocking the Catholic Church.
But he said all Christians should be like angels messengers of Christ's "victory over evil and death, the bearers of his divine love." Benedict said this was especially true for priests.
The pontiff is coming off a busy Easter week clouded by accusations that the Vatican, and he personally, have failed to protect children from abusive priests.
The scandal has inched closer to Benedict, with cases dating to his tenure as archbishop of Munich in his native Germany and when he was charge of the Vatican's office dealing with clerical sex abuse cases.
Victims want him to shoulder some responsibility for a common practice by bishops in the past of shuffling pedophile priests from parish to parish rather than sullying the church's reputation by defrocking clergy who raped or sexually abused minors.
Benedict has not publicly discussed the accusations, but the Vatican has denounced what it calls a smear campaign against the pope and his advisers and has defended the pontiff's response.
At the Easter Sunday Mass, a senior cardinal defended Benedict from the accusations, which he called "petty gossip." Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, hailed Benedict for "unfailing" leadership and courage.
After the Easter Sunday ceremonies, Benedict, 82, went to the Castel Gandolfo retreat south of Rome for a period of rest.
Pilgrims applauded and cheered as he greeted them in several languages and wished them a Happy Easter. Speaking in Spanish, the pope said Christ "accompanies the church on its path and supports its amid difficulties."