Archbishop Timothy Dolan (Photo: AP)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan on Sunday launched an impassioned defense of Pope Benedict XVI as the child sex abuse scandal roils the Catholic Church during Holy Week.

Action taken against “this sickening sin … could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo,” Dolan said following Palm Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Benedict has faced calls to resign amid his alleged mishandling of molestation cases when he was Munich archbishop decades ago, and later as head of a Vatican office that disciplines clergy. Under Benedict’s watch, a German priest returned to work, though he was in therapy for pedophilia. Benedict — then called Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — also failed to defrock a Wisconsin priest who allegedly abused 200 deaf boys.

“The true victim here is not Pope Benedict. The victims are those deaf children who were raped and sodomized,” Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, told amNewYork on Sunday. SNAP is not calling for Benedict’s resignation, but “all we see is lofty words,” Blaine said.

Dolan received applause Sunday from the standing-room-only crowd, but a protester outside the midtown cathedral held sign that read, “Honk if Pope should resign.” More heated calls for Benedict’s ouster raged in London, with dozens of protesters gathered outside Westminster Cathedral. “Pope? Nope!” and “Don’t Turn a Blind Eye,” their signs read. In Switzerland, still more protesters are calling for a registry of pedophile priests.

Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nichols told BBC “there is no strong reason for” the pope to quit.

Benedict’s Palm Sunday homily in Vatican City made no direct mention of the abuse cases, though one prayer was said “for the young and for those charged with educating them and protecting them.”

(With AP)

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emily.ngo@am-ny.com