Vatican city: Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday lamented that the clerical abuse scandals were eclipsing the Catholic church's reputation as a place of hope, but insisted that bad seeds in the priesthood cannot eliminate the good the church does.
Benedict cited the Gospel parable about a sower and his seed, recalling the question to the Lord about why weeds sprang up among the grain even though good seed had been sown in the field.
"In these last months we have had to repeatedly confront news that aims to take away the joy in the church, to obscure it as a place of hope," Benedict said in a message to an ecumenical church meeting in Munich, in his German homeland.
"Weeds" from bad seed "exist even in the bosom of the church and among those whom the Lord has welcomed into his service in a special way," the pope said, in an analogy that clearly evoked the scandals of pedophile priests.
Recent weeks have also seen the resignations of several bishops for cover-ups of clerical abuse, but a few bishops have also stepped down because they themselves were molesters.
Abuse allegations have rocked the church in several European countries this year, including Germany.
Reeling under revelations of systematic shuffling in several countries of known abuser priests from parish to parish or even country to country, the Vatican has started house-cleaning, with the strains showing among top prelates about how to handle the crisis.
Lobbies for victims have been pressing the pope to admit what they say has been his own faulty handling of abuse cases, both in his previous role as archbishop of Munich and in his long tenure as the powerful head of the Vatican watchdog office on morality before becoming pontiff in 2005.
First Published: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 23:01