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VATICAN CITY, Apr. 15, 2010 (Reuters) — Pope Benedict said on Thursday the sexual abuse scandal shaking Roman Catholicism showed the Church needed to do penance for its sins, in a rare public reference by the pope to pedophilia in the priesthood.
"Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives," the said pope at a mass in the Vatican.
The pope's personal preacher went as far as to compare the abuse scandal to anti-Semitism, drawing sharp criticism from some Jews and from victims of abuse by priests.
Pope Benedict also hit back at critics of the Church, portraying them as in the thrall of a conformist "dictatorship."
"Conformism which makes it obligatory to think and act like everyone else, and the subtle -- or not so subtle -- aggression toward the Church demonstrate how this conformism can really be a true dictatorship," said the pope.