A senior cardinal defended Pope Benedict XVI from "petty gossip" today, praising his "unfailing" leadership, even as the pontiff maintained his silence on mounting accusations of sex abuse cover-ups during his Easter message. At the end of the two-hour long ceremony, a weary-looking Benedict delivered the papacy's traditional Easter "Urbi et Orbi" message, analyzing humanity's failings and hopes.
Benedict singled out the "trials and sufferings" of Christians in Iraq, Pakistan, Haiti, and Chile, but despite repeated appeals by victims that he take responsibility for his role in the handling of pedophile priests, he remained silent. Today's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano denounced the accusations against the pope as a "vile defamation operation." Benedict's personal preacher, however, had to apologize for comparing accusations against him to anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust.