Pope: Sex Abuse Crisis Is Church's Biggest Threat

In his strongest comments on the controversy to date, Pope Benedict XVI said the sex abuse scandal is the biggest threat to the Catholic Church and called for penitence and purification. The pope, on his way to Portugal, said, “The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sin within the church.” The comments, urging the church to “learn forgiveness but also justice,” are an apparent repudiation of the Vatican’s earlier response to the crisis, when it blamed a campaign waged by pro-choice and pro-gay rights activists. In recent weeks, the Pope has accepted the resignations of some bishops who admitted to abusing children or protecting those who did.