Pope's personal preacher offers defense of pontiff

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Associated Press

Posted on April 2, 2010 at 1:00 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher is likening accusations against the pope and the church in the sex abuse scandal to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.

The Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said in a Good Friday sermon, with the pope listening to him in St. Peter's Basilica, that a Jewish friend has said the accusations remind him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."

The remarks came in a prayer service at the Vatican a few hours before Benedict XVI was scheduled to take part in a Colosseum Way of the Cross procession commemorating Christ's suffering before his crucifixtion.

Thousands of Holy Week pilgrims were in St. Peter's Square as the church defends itself against accusations that Benedict had a role in covering up sex abuses cases.

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