Pope Benedict XVI, right, is greeted by Cardinal Angelo Sodano during an Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
The Associated Press reports that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals hailed Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Easter Mass as an unfailing and courageous leader of a flock that takes no heed of "petty gossip."
The report said:
"Benedict looked weary as he listened to Sodano's speech. A canopy on the central steps of St. Peter's Basilica shielded him from light rain.
Sodano said that, despite the rain, the atmosphere should be considered sunny.
"With this spirit today we rally close around you, successor to (St.) Peter, bishop of Rome, the unfailing rock of the Holy church of Christ, to sing with you the Alleluia of Christian faith and hope," Sodano told the pope.
"Holy Father, on your side are the people of God, who do not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials which sometimes buffet the community of believers."
Tens of thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Romans turned out despite the weather.
Sunday's edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano denounced the accusations against the pope as a "vile defamation operation." "