Pope Benedict XVI has referred to the continually developing sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church as "really terrifying" display of the Church's sins, which the pontiff declared are the greatest sources of attack on the group apart from the media.
Speaking on his flight from Rome to Portugal, Benedict told reporters that the "greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside, but is born in sin within the church," according to a translation from the National Catholic Reporter, adding that the "church thus has a deep need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn on one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice."
"Forgiveness does not exclude justice," the Pope said, marking one of his strongest and most direct statements on the abuse scandal to date.
Despite the effort, however, Benedict's handling of the scandal in recent months has been received with mostly negative responses from media and victims of the scandal, who have criticized the pontiff for not being active enough.
A statement released today from the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said that Benedict does a "disservice to children, victims, and Catholics by trying to perpetrate the myth that the church is somehow a 'victim' in its on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis."
"Many are tiring of hearing about his 'strong comments.' They want to see strong action. Most of all, kids need strong action," the statement continues.
Last month during a visit to Malta, Benedict met face to face with several abuse victims who gave the Pope some of his first positive feedback since the scandal erupted last summer, calling the pontiff a "saint" and saying that the meeting had restored their faith.
Meanwhile, two U.S. abuse victims are planning to bring a massive group of abuse survivors right to the Vatican's doorstep later this year.
Massachusetts residents Olan Horne and Bernie McDaid, who met with Benedict during the Pope's 2008 visit to the U.S., are hoping to bring 50,000 abuse victims to St. Peter's Square on October 31 to ensure that the group's voice is properly heard.