Pope praises his priests
Vatican City - The pope is publicly applauding priests for being a "gift" to both the church and the world, despite the clergy abuse scandals that have saddened or angered many Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI says priests - from saints and martyrs to the unheralded pastors toiling in tiny parishes - have been key to bringing what he called authentic spiritual and social renewal throughout history.
The pope, who was addressing pilgrims on Sunday in St Peter's Square, made no mention of the scandals tainting the church. He said God's love gives priests the ability to forgive their enemies.
On Friday, Benedict begged forgiveness from victims of priests who sexually abused them and made a symbolic pledge to do everything possible to protect children.