MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Mary Louise Kelly.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
We'll hear voices from Boston and Chicago in a moment.
LOUISE KELLY: NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome.
(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING AT MASS)
POGGIOLI: Unidentified Man (Priest): The washing of feet is a gesture which calls each of us to be sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters.
POGGIOLI: In his homilies this week, Benedict has not mentioned the scandals swirling around the Vatican's doorstep. But throughout Europe - from Warsaw to Vienna to the Vatican itself - top prelates are defending the pope from what is seen as a media campaign to smear him and the Catholic Church.
ROBERT MICKENS: They don't fully grasp the seriousness of this situation.
POGGIOLI: Robert Mickens is the Vatican correspondent for the British weekly The Tablet.
MICKENS: They really believe that they can just ride this out by flying high and not getting involved in it, just taking the hits as they may, plodding along, hoping that like everything else this is going to end up on the back pages and then disappear.
POGGIOLI: Robert Mickens says the Vatican's wall of silence is still impenetrable.
MICKENS: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and Pope Benedict, has always worked and always insisted upon secrecy. And so he's always felt that bishops, the leaders of the church, this small group of men, should be able to work behind closed doors without the preying eyes of the press.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.
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