Pope Francis told a gathering of bishops that the Church needs to be protected from the 'great accuser' – in an apparent reference to criticism the Vatican has received over child sex abuse scandals.
He was speaking at the end of the Synod of Bishops on Saturday and claimed that that the 'mother' Church is being persecuted through accusations from people 'seeking to destroy it'.
His comments, made at the Vatican, seem to be aimed at those critical of the Church because of a number of clerical sex abuse scandals recently.
Pope Francis told assembled bishops that the actions of Church members fuel the so-called great accuser.
According to the Catholic Herald, he said: 'Through us, the great accuser wants to attack. Our Mother (the Church) is holy but because of our sins, the great accuser always takes advantage.'
The Pope explained that Christians suffer persecution because of their faith all over the world, but added that continuous accusations are another form of persecution.
He said it was 'time to defend the mother' and insisted that the Church as a whole cannot be dirtied by accusations of abuse against its members.
In his comments, he claimed that 'the great accuser' intended to attack the Church and called on members to defend it.
He urged the world not to taint the whole of the Catholic Church because of the scandals.
Meanwhile, some bishops from Asia and Africa have termed the abuse scandal a 'Western problem'.
Church leaders from around the world attended the closing mass of the synod which many had hoped would take the global struggle against paedophile priests up a notch.