Pope Benedict XVI engaged in the traditional act of washing the feet of his bishops and priests in St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday night.
Maundy Thursday marks Jesus’ Last Supper and is the day in the Holy calendar when priests traditionally renew their vows.
In his homily during evening Mass, the pope made no direct reference to strong criticism against him in recent weeks but spoke of Jesus’ teaching on non-retaliation.
"When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he trusted to Him who judges justly,” he said.
On Good Friday, Benedict marked Jesus’ trial and crucifixion as he took part in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum.
The pope has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks over his handling of a child abuse case involving a priest in the 1990s, prompting some calls for his resignation. In the United Kingdom, there have been calls for the pope to reconsider his state visit in September.
A number of high profile Catholic leaders have come to the defense of the pope, including the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
Speaking about the case on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show earlier in the week, Nichols said the pope had “handled it properly.”
Elsewhere, Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, defended the pope’s oversight of child abuse cases.
He was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “Deceitful accusations have been leveled against he who has done, and does, so much to remove ‘every filth’ from the priesthood.”
And Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, on Friday reiterated an earlier public apology he had made to “anyone who has suffered any abuse at the hands of any one representing the Catholic Church.”
O’Brien said unreported abuse within the Church “brings shame on us all” and “left ordinary Catholics demoralized and confused.”
He echoed Benedict’s recent call to Catholics to return to “the roots of our faith” and seek renewal within the Church.
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