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Greatest threat to Church comes from within, Pope says

May 11, 2010

The greatest danger to the Church comes not from external enemies or critics, but "is born from the sin within the Church," Pope Benedict XVI said on May 11.

In a conversation with reporters who accompanied him on his flight from Rome to Portugal, Pope Benedict acknowledged that "attacks against the Pope or the Church don't come just from outside the Church."

"The suffering of the church also comes from within the Church," the Pope said. He continued:

This too has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way. The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside, but is born in sin within the church. The church thus has a deep need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn on one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. Forgiveness does not exclude justice.

[John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter furnished a quick unofficial translation of the Pope's entire exchange with reporters.]

In making those remarks, Pope Benedict was responding to a question about the meaning of the Fatima message. He did not explicitly mention the sex-abuse scandal-- in that respect an AP headline, "Pope sees sex scandal as greatest threat to church," is misleading-- but his meaning was apparently. The Pope was clearly rejecting the notion that the worldwide publicity given to the sex-abuse scandal is merely a creation of the media.

In his comments on the message of Fatima, the Pope said that the Church will "always be suffering." He said that the message of Our Lady to the children of Fatima cannot be reduced to one specific historical event, but speaks to the ever-present need for repentance and conversion.

In other remarks to the reporters who accompanied him on the trip, the Pontiff said that his message to the people of Portugal would be like his message to all of Europe, emphasizing the need to rediscover the Christian roots of European society. The emergence of secular states is a healthy development, the Pope said, "but a separation of cult from life, a separation of secularism from cult and faith, is anomalous and must be overcome."

That message applies specifically to the economic problems that Portugal is currently experiencing, the Pope added. The economic crisis reflects a spiritual crisis, he said. To address it, "two separate cultural currents must meet."


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  • Posted by: raymondfrice9926 - May. 11, 2010 9:51 PM ET USA

    At the present time, it appears the church is being subverted by the clergy!!!

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - May. 11, 2010 9:37 PM ET USA

    "Some Vatican observers say this focus on sin within the Church signals that Pope Benedict will draw inspiration from his predecessor Pope Gregory IX who founded the papal Inquisition when bishops failed at the task of extirpating sin."