Pilgrims are arriving in St. Peter's Square to mark Good Friday as the church defends itself against accusations that Pope Benedict XVI played a role in covering up sex abuses cases.
The pope is scheduled to preside over a prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica and then lead the Way of the Cross procession commemorating Christ's crucifixion.
Amid reports of clerical sex abuse cases in several European countries, including Benedict's native Germany, the Vatican has fired back at the Western media.
The pope has not publicly addressed the crisis this week.
Pilgrims say they are not going let the crisis ruin their Easter celebration.
Anne Rossier of Boston, Massachusetts, says "we could not have been in a better place right now for Easter."
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