Pope muddies waters on abuse
Published 21/12/2010 | 07:27
POPE Benedict's end-of-year address to Vatican cardinals and bishops yesterday will puzzle many and anger not a few. It has been severely criticised by Barbara Blaine, president of the main American organisation representing survivors of clerical sex abuse. She says it is disturbing "to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal".
Ms Blaine may be right about the misdiagnosis but wrong about the convenience. Benedict XVI has an unfortunate propensity for utterances that many of his followers find hard to understand and that at worst sound like excuses.
Yesterday he acknowledged with appropriate humility the sins of the Catholic Church in covering up sex abuse, but said that as lately as the 1970s paedophilia was not considered an absolute evil but part of a spectrum of behaviour that people refused to judge in the name of tolerance and relativism. "It was maintained -- even within the realm of Catholic theology -- that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself." It seems remarkable that he could make such an assertion, and even more remarkable if he meant that "relativism" was used as a justification for child sex abuse.