Pope Benedict started a trip to Britain on Thursday with some of the clearest criticism yet of his Church’s handling of its sexual abuse crisis and urged the country to beware of “aggressive secularism.”
Some 125,000 people, including a small number of protesters, watched the 83-year-old pope as he was driven through the Scottish capital Edinburgh wearing a green plaid scarf.
He told reporters aboard the plane taking him to Scotland for a four-day trip to Britain that he was shocked by what he called “a perversion” of the priesthood.
About 150 protesters waved gay rainbow flags and banners saying “Pope opposition to condoms kills people” and “Stop protecting pedophile priests.”
“It is also a great sadness that the authority of the Church was not sufficiently vigilant and not sufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures,” he added.