Vatican City: Tens of thousands of people have filled St Peter`s Square in a massive show of solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal.
An association of 68 Italian lay groups organised the demonstration, which overflowed out of the piazza. Banners read `Together with the pope`, and `Don`t be afraid, Jesus won out over evil`.
Such large crowds are usually reserved for holiday Masses and canonisations, not for Benedict`s brief weekly prayer from his studio window.
The Vatican has been mired in scandal amid hundreds of reports in Europe, the United States and elsewhere of priests who raped and molested children while bishops and Vatican officials turned a blind eye. Benedict`s own handling of cases has also come under fire.