Saturday 25 May 2019

Retired pope blames abuse scandal on '60s sex revolution

Retired Pope Benedict: He said Church law protected priests. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, FILE)
Retired Pope Benedict: He said Church law protected priests. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, FILE)

Nicole Winfield

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published an analysis on the Catholic Church's clergy sex abuse scandal, blaming it on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and Church laws that protected priests.

The essay immediately raised eyebrows, seeming to interfere with or even contradict Pope Francis's own efforts to confront one of the most critical issues facing the Church.

One Church historian called Benedict's essay "catastrophically irresponsible", because it conflicted with Francis's own efforts to lead the Church out of the sex abuse crisis.

Benedict, in 2013, had said he planned to retire to a lifetime of penance and prayer and would leave Francis to guide the Church.

US Church analysts said the essay, published in the German monthly 'Klerusblatt', was both flawed in content and problematic on universal Church level, exacerbating existing divisions in the Church that have emerged between supporters of Francis and Catholics nostalgic for Benedict's doctrine-minded papacy.

In his introduction, Benedict said both the Vatican secretary of state and Francis had given him permission to publish it.

In the essay, Benedict traced the start of the clergy abuse crisis to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, citing the appearance of sex in films in his native Bavaria.

He also blamed the crisis on failures of moral theology in that era, as well as Church laws that gave undue protection to accused priests.

Benedict wrote that during the 1980s and 1990s, "the right to a defence (for priests) was so broad as to make a conviction nearly impossible".

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict reformed those laws in 2001 to make it easier to remove priests who abused children.

Irish Independent

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