Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a letter which blames clerical sex abuse on the “all-out sexual freedom” of the 1960s. He said that cultural and historical change had led to a “dissolution” of morality in Catholicism.
The sexual revolution in the 1960s had led to homosexuality and pedophilia in Catholic establishments, he claimed. The letter sparked fierce criticism from theologians who claim it is deeply flawed.
Vatican expert Joshua McElwee said in the National Catholic Enquirer: It does not address structural issues that abetted abuse cover-up, or Benedict's own contested 24-year role as head of the Vatican's powerful doctrinal office.
Some allegations of child sex abuse by priests that have emerged date back to decades before the 1960s, the decade that Pope Benedict claims sparked the abuse crisis.
Julie Rubio, a Catholic theologian, said in a tweet that the letter was profoundly troubling.
It is rare for Pope Benedict, who in 2013 was the first to resign in almost 600 years, to intervene in clerical matters. He had been accused of failing to protect children and suppressing investigations, allegations he denied
The only solution to the problem, the former Pope said, was obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
His analysis of the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church takes a more theological and historical approach than Pope Francis.a summit on protecting minors in the church in February 2019.
At a summit in February, the current pontiff called for concrete measures to tackle the crisis, not just simple and obvious condemnations.
As he had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the church when more cases emerged, Pope Benedict said he wanted to contribute to a new beginning.
Published in the German Catholic magazine Klerusblatt, the 5,500-word letter is divided into three parts. The first part presents the wider social context of the question, lamenting the 1960s as a time when previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely.
He blames sexual films, images of nudity and the clothing of that time leading to mental collapse and violence.
At the time of the sexual revolution, Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that rendered the Church defenseless against these changes in society, he said.
The sexual revolution led to pedophilia being diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.
Next, the letter examines how this period affected the dissolution of the Christian concept of morality, particularly in Catholic educational institutions.
In some cases, bishops sought to bring about a kind of new, modern Catholicism and the sexual revolution led to homosexual cliques in seminaries.
He claimed one bishop showed his students pornographic films to make them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.
The question of pedophilia, as I recall, did not become acute until the second half of the 1980s, he said.
The letter concludes by advocating a return to faith. Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? he questions. Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God. He says the death of God in a society means the end of freedom and the solution is to live by God and unto Him.
Finally, Pope Benedic thanks his replacement, Pope Francis, for everything he does to show us, again and again, the light of God, which has not disappeared, even today.