Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has attributed the clerical sexual abuse scandals to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and a post-Vatican II “collapse” in Catholic moral theology. Source: Crux.
In one of his most extended public statements since his resignation more than six years ago, Benedict argues that the scandals reflect a decline in faith in a personal God.
“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God,” he wrote. “We Christians and priests also prefer not to talk about God, because this speech does not seem to be practical.”
Benedict’s comments come in a 6,000-word essay written for Klerusblatt, a monthly magazine for clergy distributed mostly in his native Bavaria region of Germany.
He said he was motivated to write following the February summit convened by Pope Francis on the abuse scandals, and that he sought the permission of both Francis and Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, before going public with his thoughts on “what I could contribute to a new beginning”.
Benedict begins by surveying the cultural landscape in the German-speaking world after the upheavals of 1968. In general, he said the rapid abandonment of traditional norms post-1968 made today’s pedophilia scandals possible.
“Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ‘68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate,” he wrote. “The extensive collapse of the next generation of priests in those years and the very high number of laicisations were a consequence of all these developments.”
Benedict also conceded that during his time as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dealing with all the abuse cases arriving in Rome “went beyond the capacities” of his office, resulting in delays and leading Francis to pursue “further reforms”.
In terms of a path forward, Benedict said that “only obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ can point the way”.
“A paramount task, which must result from the moral upheavals of our time, is that we ourselves once again begin to live by God and unto Him,” Benedict wrote. Such a revival of the faith, he said, must begin with deeper reverence for the Holy Eucharist.
Full text of Benedict XVI: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’ (Catholic Herald)
Former Pope blames 1960s for clerical sex abuse (The Tablet)
Ex-pope blames 1960s for abuse crisis (The Australian)
Former Pope Benedict blames church’s scandals partly on the ‘60s (New York Post)