The standing-room-only crowd at St. Patrick's Cathedral applauded for 20 seconds after Dolan read a statement calling the pope the "leader in purification, reform and renewal that the church so very much needs."
Still, Dolan said reports of abuse of minors by some priests in Ireland and Germany and the retelling of the abuse of children by a priest in Wisconsin had intensified the somberness of Holy Week.
The leader of the nation's second-largest diocese urged his congregation to pray for the pope, saying he was suffering some of the same unjust accusations once faced by Jesus.
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