Pope says church’s attackers are linked to devil

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says that those who are constantly attacking the church are linked to the devil.

Francis on Wednesday told pilgrims from southern Italy that the church’s “defects” must be denounced in order to correct them.

But he said that those who do so without love and spend their lives “accusing” the church are either the devil’s friends or relatives.

Francis spoke on the eve of a Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse and cover-ups by the church’s hierarchy.

Detractors, including a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, have accused him of not properly dealing with top prelates and priests who were suspected abusers.

Francis didn’t cite specific accusations nor mention the summit in his remarks.

He told the pilgrims that the Bible calls the devil the “great accuser.” He added that “we are all sinners, some big” sinners.