Vatican Defense Not Planned by Pope

The Roman Curia's headline-grabbing defense of Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal has demonstrated that when it comes to Vatican communications, the pope is not a micromanager. Twice during Holy Week liturgies, the pope was caught unawares when his aides spoke passionately about the barrage of criticism the pontiff and other church leaders have faced in recent weeks on the sex abuse issue. One official compared the attacks on the church and the pope to "the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism," while another said the church would survive the "current petty gossip." What Pope Benedict thought of these interventions was not clear. But in both cases, the remarks had the unintended effect of upstaging his own spiritual message about the meaning of Christ's Passion and Easter. From the outside, the Vatican's verbal rallying around the pope was viewed as an orchestrated campaign to counter his critics. If there was orchestration, however, it wasn't directed by the pope.

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