By Michael Ventura
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MANHATTAN — Archbishop Timothy Dolan defended Pope Benedict XVI during Palm Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral amid a growing church abuse scandal that's aimed directly at the Vatican.
Dolan called on Catholics to pray for the pontiff and compared the Pope's plight to that of Jesus Christ, in that both faced unjust accusations, according to news reports.
"[Reforms] could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo," Dolan said during the service, the Daily News reported.
The Pope is accused of looking the other way when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was allegedly presented with evidence of child abuse among priests in Ireland, Germany and Milwaukee, Wisc.
"The somberness of Holy Week is intensified for Catholics this year," Dolan said, according to NBC New York. "The recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again."
Meanwhile, in Rome, the Pope said during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square that he would not be "intimidated" by "petty gossip" from the abuse scandal, the News reported.
Still, Dolan said the church should face scrutiny for the abuse scandals, but that the Catholic Church was not to blame for every incidence of child abuse that "has cursed every culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency and family in the world," the News reported.
Reaction to Dolan's remarks was mixed.
"Dolan's doing what church officials have done for centuries; put their own comfort and reputations above the safety of kids and the healing of victims," David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the New York Post.
"I thought it was very well-put," Inga Yungwirth, of Hagerstown, Md., told the News. "It doesn't shake my faith."