Ex-pope  blames the 1960s for clergy sex abuse

Former Pope Benedict XVI has blamed the “unprecedented radicalism of the 1960s” for the Church’s clerical sex abuse crisis.

Victoria Wystepek
Victoria Wystepek NewsMavens, Europe
Ex-pope  blames the 1960s for clergy sex abuse - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Pope Benedict XVI placed the beginnnig of the “dissolution of the Christian concept of morality” in the 1960s when normative sexual standards started to break down and became more open.

Although the retired pope castigated the Church for not acting on the abuse in a timely matter, his statements have caused controversy because they failed to “address structural issues that abetted abuse cover-up,” said Joshua McElwee, Vatican Correspondent at the National Catholic Reporter. 

Benedict published his essay in Germany’s Catholic magazine Klerusblatt. He claimed that he had current Pope Francis’s permission to publish the essay, but some religious historians accuse Benedict of contradicting Francis’s efforts to lead the church out of the sex abuse crisis.

One Church historian, Christoper Bellitto, stated, “It is catastrophically irresponsible, because it creates a counter-narrative to how Francis is trying to move ahead based on the 2019 summit.” 

Benedict concluded the essay by emphasizing that the problem can only be solved through “obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Details from the story:

  • The former Pope retired in 2013 and turns 92 years old this year. 
  • Benedict also wrote that in the 1980s and 1990s laws which defended priests were too broad to properly address the crisis. 
  • In 2001, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the now ex-Pope Benedict reformed those laws  to make it easier for priests to be convicted of child abuse.
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