The holiest day on the Christian calendar is not the appropriate time to discuss allegations that the Vatican covered up child sexual abuse by priests, Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said Sunday.
O'Brien did not address the abuse scandal during Easter Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption, the oldest cathedral in the United States, and he touched on it only briefly during comments to reporters before the service, the Associated Press reports.
"Christ himself said, 'In the world, you'll have trials. But do not fear; I have overcome the world.' And that's where our focus is," O'Brien said. "Damage has been done. We're trying to repair that damage. We're trying to help those who've been hurt. But we go on; we're still a church. We still bring a positive message to our people and the world."
Pope Benedict XVI also did not acknowledge accusations that he perpetuated a climate of cover-up for pedophile priests, a scandal that threatens to overshadow his papacy and has led to calls for his resignation. At St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, a senior cardinal defended the pontiff from what he called "petty gossip" and hailed his leadership and courage.
In Baltimore, several congregants said their faith in the church's leadership had not been shaken by the allegations. But Rosemarie McManus said she was dismayed by what she called a worldwide crisis.
"It's disgusting. It's embarrassing. It makes me totally sad," said the 83-year-old music teacher, who said she had to hide her Catholic faith from the Nazis as a girl in her native Germany.McManus, who said her late husband was a reform-minded Catholic publisher, added that she took issue only with "the institution of the church. It has nothing to do with the Scriptures, which we love."
Her daughter, Maureen McManus, said the church would benefit from being more transparent about its failures.
"I can understand why the Catholic Church has all its problems, because it's so insulated from the way the world operates," said McManus, 49, who no longer regularly attends Catholic services. "The church is mired in its own corruption."
But Anna Callahan, 70, of Philadelphia, defended the pope's silence about the scandal.
"Sometimes I think silence is golden," Callahan said. "I think he's a beautiful man."
Callahan said when she heard new allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in Europe and new details about allegations in the United States, "I was upset. I'm not going to lie. But the more I thought about it, I remembered that to forgive is divine."
Rodrigo Bisbal, 39, of Baltimore, said he was certain the church would weather the crisis.
"As long as the leadership stays positive to us in the future, as long as we give people something to believe, it will persevere," Bisbal said.