Vatican sex scandal: Renewal needed
Vatican City - The Vatican No 2 said on Wednesday that, while the sex abuse scandal has been painful and damaging to the church, it has also shown the need for a spiritual renewal.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, made the comments to priests who gathered at the Vatican to mark the end of the church's Year of the Priest - a year that has been marred by hundreds of revelations of priestly abuse and Vatican inaction to stamp it out.
Bertone said the revelations had harmed the credibility of the church. But he said they had also provided a "providential realisation" of the need for a "new season of spiritual renewal and rebirth".
Pope Benedict XVI is expected to address the priests on Thursday night during a vigil service, and again on Friday during a Mass.
There is some speculation that Benedict may again refer to the scandal, following his recent comments en route to Portugal during which he acknowledged that it was born of the "sin within the church" and not from outside elements.
Previously Vatican officials, Vatican publications and cardinals had blamed the scandal on the media, the Masons and anti-Catholic lobbies, among others.
On Wednesday, during his weekly general audience, Benedict urged prayers for the priests gathered for the event, which has taken on something of the feel of a rally in support of the pontiff amid the scandal.
"Thousands of priests from all around the world have come to Rome to praise the Lord and renew their commitment," Benedict said.
"I invite you all to participate at this event with prayers."