Sexual freedom of 1960s to blame for abuse crisis says ex-pope

The Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, has published a 6,000-word essay blaming clerical sex abuse on the “all-out sexual freedom” of the 1960s.

Cultural and historical change have led to a “dissolution” of morality in Catholicism, he claims.

As an example, he says despite allegations of clerical sex abuse of children dating back to decades before the 1960s, it was not until the sexual revolution in the 1960s that homosexuality and paedophilia occurred in Catholic establishments.

In particular, he cites the appearance of sex in films in his native Bavaria and the formation of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries “which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate.”

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God,” Benedict explains.

This can be resolved only through “obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ,” he says.

In addition, he claims at a seminary in southern Germany, laymen were accompanied by their wives and children and “on occasion by their girlfriends.

“The climate in this seminary could not provide support for preparation to the priestly vocation.

“The Holy See knew of such problems, without being informed precisely,” he says.

At the same time, he says it might be worth mentioning that “in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood.

“My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.”

Benedict’s essay also finds fault with church laws that gave undue protection to accused priests.

He notes 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 spearheaded reforms of those laws in 2001 to make it easier to remove priests who abused children.

He also took a hard line against clerical sex abuse as the Vatican’s doctrine chief and later as pope, defrocking hundreds of priests accused of raping and molesting children.

Right now, in his opinion, the primary task is “to reassert the joyful truth of God’s existence and of the church as holding the true deposit of faith.

“When thinking about what action is required first and foremost, it is rather obvious that we do not need another church of our own design.

“Rather, what is required first and foremost is the renewal of the faith in the reality of Jesus Christ given to us in the Blessed Sacrament,” he says.

Benedict’s essay has been criticised as “catastrophically irresponsible” as it conflicts with efforts Pope Francis is making to lead the church out of the crisis.

However, following the February Vatican gathering of presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences “to discuss the current crisis of faith and of the church,” Benedict says he thinks it is appropriate that he should help contribute “to a new beginning”.

He also says his involvement is reasonable given his role as pope during “the public outbreak of the crisis”.


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