There was Easter cheer, despite the persistent rain. Tens of thousands of faithful had come to St. Peter's Square to celebrate new beginnings through Jesus' resurrection. The wet and cold weather on this Easter Sunday was symptomatic of the dark cloud under which the Catholic Church is currently in the media public eye.
Benedict XVI spoke of beginning and renewal. in his Easter message. Traditionally, he uses this opportunity to highlight international trouble spots live on more than 100 television channels around the world. Now he brought to the fore the biblical motif of the Exodus, symbol of the transition from the reign of sin to forgiveness. A "spiritual and moral transformation" was called for by the pope. A transformation with the help of the Gospel to "come out of a crisis that is deep and therefore requires deep changes, starting with people's consciences." He had previously interpreted the early Christian baptismal rite in a similar way at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica, with its rejection of Satan. It is necessary to put away fornication and immorality, "garments of death". Baptism, he said, is only the beginning of a lifelong process of conversion. He did not address the ie of abuse or questions of guilt and responsibility in more concrete terms. In the fundamental he remained also on Good Friday evening, when he entrusted to Jesus the unsuccessfulnesses and bitternesses of life. In all the great ceremonies of these days, he spoke as a teacher of his Church, theologically penetrated, with spiritual depth. He chose words that have validity beyond current events.
Backing of the cardinals It was left to Angelo Sodano, the highest-ranking cardinal of the Curia, to be more specific. He spoke in defense of his longtime cardinal colleague Ratzinger, whom he now defended as pope. At start of Easter Mass, he publicly ared him of cardinals' backing. The entire community of Catholics rallied around him, the "immaculate rock of Christ's holy Church," he said in an unusual solidarity address. "The people of God are with you."In his long years as cardinal secretary of state, Sodano was once the most powerful churchman alongside the prefect of the faith, Joseph Ratzinger. Unlike the intransigent German, immovable in matters of faith and morals, Sodano was considered at the time to be the one at the head of the Curia who preferred diplomatic solutions whenever possible. All the stronger his current words: the Church remains unimpressed by the "chatter of the moment". He moved Benedict XVI. Even close to the suffering Christ, who was reviled without reviling. The tone of the defense is becoming more resolute at the top of the Church. In its Easter edition, the Vatican newspaper "Osservatore Romano" scolded the abuse debate as "clumsy propaganda against the pope and Catholics". From Paris and Lima, Mexico City, Madrid and other episcopal sees, the paper carried statements of solidarity from cardinals against the "slanderous attacks and defamation campaign constructed around the drama of the sexual abuse cases".
House preacher wants to help The papal house preacher Raniero Cantalamessa had also attempted an exculpatory blow. At the Good Friday service in St. Peter's Basilica, he quoted a Jewish friend: the use of stereotypes and the shift from personal to collective guilt in the abuse debate are "reminiscent of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism". Jewish organizations protested, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi distanced himself the same evening. Cantalamessa rowed back on Sunday: in an interview he asked Jews and pedophilia victims to apologize. He had only wanted to lead a "testimony of solidarity for the Pope, who is currently so violently attacked" from the Jewish side. And: the text had not been proofread anywhere in the Vatican. However, when an experienced preacher like Cantalamessa gallops off like this, it shows how much the media bombardment has frayed the nerves of some churchmen. Traditionally, a quieter time now begins at the Vatican. After the exhausting ceremonies, the 82-year-old pope retires to his country estate in Castelgandolfo for a few days of relaxation. With the last blast of the papal gendarmerie band after the blessing "Urbi et orbi" the Roman Easter was over. The cardinals with their silk birettos ruined by the rain hurriedly moved into the basilica, the mass of faithful quickly dispersed. Half an hour later, the skies brightened.