Pope Benedict XVI spent the third anniversary of his election to the papacy trying to comfort clergy still weathering the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal, the AP reports. “I simply wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness,” Benedict said. The pontiff, addressing 3,000 people at New York’s famed St. Patrick’s cathedral, also called for purification and healing.
A Vatican official said the church may make it easier to oust predators. But the pope’s support for the clergy comes as their ranks diminish: More than 3,200 of 18,600 American parishes don’t have resident priests, the AP says, and officials have been scouting overseas to find potential candidates. Tomorrow, Benedict will visit ground zero and hold Mass at Yankee Stadium.