The pope made his strongest remarks to date on sexual abuse cases at a press conference on May 11 during his flight to Portugal for a four-day visit that included the Marian shrine of Fatima. The pope suggested that the message of Fatima, which foresaw times of trial for the church, could be applied to the crisis. Catholics have long known that attacks on the church can come “from sins that exist inside the church,” he said. “Today we see it in a really terrifying way, that the biggest persecution of the church doesn’t come from the enemies outside but is born from sin inside the church,” he said. “And so the church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness is not a substitute for justice,” Pope Benedict said. “We have to relearn these essentials: conversion, prayer, penance,” he said.
Pope Calls Crisis 'Terrifying' Failing