VIGIL MASS

A Tough Easter for the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI presided over Easter Eve services Saturday as the cloud of the Catholic Church’s latest sex-abuse scandal loomed. Looking tired during the service at St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict received six converts to Catholicism and administered the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. His sermon invoked the theme of eternal life. In the last three days, the pope has not mentioned the sex-abuse charges that have marred the church’s image in recent weeks (200 deaf American boys were allegedly abused by Reverend Lawrence Murphy from 1950 to 1974; Benedict—then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—was warned about Murphy but did not defrock him). The Vatican has accused the press of trying to smear the pope, and the pope’s preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, compared the media attacks to “collective violence” against Jews, stirring up much controversy. (The Vatican disavowed his comments.) The Vatican newspaper called the reports a "crude campaign against the pope and Catholics."