Retired Pope Benedict XVI publishes article on sexual abuse crisis

Retired Pope Benedict XVI, acknowledging his role in helping the Catholic Church come to terms with the clerical sexual abuse crisis beginning in the 1980s, wrote an article outlining his thoughts about what must be done now.

Seeing the crisis as rooted in the "egregious event" of the cultural and sexual revolution in the Western world in the 1960s and a collapse of the existence and authority of absolute truth and God, the retired pope said the primary task at hand is to reassert the joyful truth of God's existence and of the church as holding the true deposit of faith.

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"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 wrote.

The pope's remarks, presented as a compilation of "some notes," were to be published in Klerusblatt, a German-language Catholic monthly journal for clergy in Bavaria. Several news outlets released their translations of the text early April 11.

Given the February Vatican gathering of presidents of the world's bishops' conferences "to discuss the current crisis of faith and of the church," and given his role as pope during "the public outbreak of the crisis," the retired pope felt it appropriate he also help contribute "to a new beginning," he said.

[Short Take: Pope Benedict’s letter on sex abuse is not an attack on Francis (or Vatican II)] 

Pope Benedict added that he contacted Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, before releasing the article.

The retired pope, who turns 92 April 16, led the universal church from 2005 to 2013 and for 23 years before that headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with handling cases of the abuse of minors by priests. He also served as a theological consultant during the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965.

Beginning in the late 1960s, while Western society at large was facing the "death" or disappearance of God and any moral compass, he said, the church's own moral theology suffered "a collapse that rendered the church defenseless against these changes in society."

A misreading of the Second Vatican Council, he said, shifted the church's understanding of revelation, resulting in a diluted or shape-shifting morality that was no longer grounded in natural law and the existence of absolute good and evil; morality could only make "relative value judgments" contingent on the moment and circumstances, he wrote.

"Indeed, in many parts of the church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude toward the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world," he wrote.

To illustrate this radical openness, he gave an example of an unnamed bishop who had been a seminary rector and "arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith."

In an extensive study on the causes and context of the abuse of minors by priests in the United States from 1950-2010, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York found "the majority of abusers (70 percent) were ordained prior to the 1970s," and 44 percent of those accused entered the priesthood before 1960.

Social factors influenced the increase of abuse incidents during the 1960s and 1970s, the report said, finding the increase consistent with "the rise of other types of 'deviant' behavior, such as drug use and crime," and changes in social behavior such as the "increase in premarital sexual behavior and divorce."

In another example of how Catholic tradition was being rejected and a "new, modern 'Catholicity'" was being introduced by some bishops, who were "not only in the United States of America," Pope Benedict cited instances of labeling seminarians "caught reading my books" as unsuitable for the priesthood. "My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk," he said.

The retired pope emphasized the importance of recognizing, embracing and defending the most essential and foundational principles of faith and of protecting the authority of the church, particularly in matters of morality.

In fact, he said the original meaning behind the verse (Mk 9:42) in which Jesus says it would be better to toss out to sea, weighed down with a millstone, whoever causes "one of these little ones who believe in me to sin," refers to those who are intellectually arrogant and cause the "little ones" -- the common believer -- to become confused in the faith.

While it is "not in itself wrong" to associate the verse with "pedophilic misconduct" as many do today, he said, its original meaning must not be obscured because "great goods such as the faith are equally important" and Jesus protects the deposit of faith with a strong threat of punishment to those who would do it harm.

"A balanced canon law," he wrote, would provide legal protection for the accused but also for the "legal protection" of the faith.

"In the general awareness of the law, the faith no longer appears to have the rank of a good requiring protection. This is an alarming situation which must be considered and taken seriously by the pastors of the church," he wrote.

"What must be done?" he asked.

Creating "another church" will not work because "that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed."

"Only obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ can point the way. So, let us first try to understand anew and from within what the Lord wants, and has wanted with us," he wrote.

The scandal of child sexual abuse reached such terrible proportions, both in society and the church, he said, because of "the absence of God" and a refusal to hold him as the guiding principle.

"A paramount task, which must result from the moral upheavals of our time, is that we ourselves once again begin to live by God and unto him. Above all, we ourselves must learn again to recognize God as the foundation of our life instead of leaving him aside."

"The crisis caused by the many cases of clerical abuse" must not lead to taking the church "into our own hands" and redesigning it.

The church is like a fishing net that catches both good and bad fish, like a field where good grain and bad weeds grow, he wrote. "The field is still God's field and the net is God's fishing net. And at all times, there are not only the weeds and the evil fish, but also the crops of God and the good fish."

The idea that people can create a better church, he wrote, "is in fact a proposal of the devil, with which he wants to lead us away from the living God, through a deceitful logic by which we are too easily duped."

"No, even today the church is not just made up of bad fish and weeds. The church of God also exists today, and today it is the very instrument through which God saves us," he said.

[Short Take: Pope Benedict’s letter on sex abuse is not an attack on Francis (or Vatican II)] 

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Lisa M
2 months 2 weeks ago

I think one of the biggest points missed in this summary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's letter is his full support of Pope Francis, and his warning to those who turn Catholicism into a political entity, as is happening with such fervor today.

Michael Caputi
2 months 2 weeks ago

Is there any question that Rome will make a saint of this man?

John Mack
2 months 2 weeks ago

Of course. From now on EVERY pope, and hundreds of other clerics, will automatically be made saints.

Deplorable Me
2 months 1 week ago

And that/those title(s) will be just as spurious as most every other they have handed out with no authority (other than man made) to do so

Annette Magjuka
2 months 2 weeks ago

So, to summarize: Pope Francis sees the vast and pervasive sex abuse by priests and the cover up by the bishops like this: The liberal morals in the ‘60’s-‘70’s caused the abuse. People did too much THINKING and not enough OBEYING because of a misinterpretation of Vatican II. (It was so much better when the mass was in Latin and ‘the faithful’ deferred to priests for everything). Benedict yearns for the day when the immense cover-up was justified to protect the institutional church. He asserts that there is still THE CHURCH of the ‘good fish’ (who totally defer to him). All we have to do is identify ‘the bad fish.’ I guess it’s time to fire up the stakes! Heretics! I’m sorry, Benedict. Times up.

Hilary Hutchinson
2 months 1 week ago

Bravo, Annette. You've said it in a nutshell. Right on!

Michael Barberi
2 months 2 weeks ago

An extremely poor response to the sexual abuse crisis by Pope Emeritus Benedict. He wants us to go back to the pre-conciliar Church, the Latin Mass, and the old "obey and pay attitude". It is a scape goat to blame the current crisis in the church on the 1960s. The Church alone is to blame for its sexual abuse crisis, its culture of clericalism and its moral corruptness with Bishops covering up clergy sexual abuse. Of course, we have the McCarrick scandal and the appalling promotion of this bishop to Cardinal by St. Pope JP II. So, far we have heard very little from Rome and Pope Francis on the necessary reforms. If Pope Francis's response to the Synod on the Young is an indication of effective action to come, we will be dramatically disappointed. This is being kind. God help us and our Church.

Robin Smith
2 months 2 weeks ago

Honorable mention to Cardinal Pell "... now in jail after his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choristers in 1996, must wait until an appeals court hands down its judgement."
The Popes must be so proud. ugh.

john63@rogers.com
2 months 1 week ago

Tip of the iceburg!
How many catholic boys back in the day, told their parents, only to have their parents believe the priest over their son, and never report the incidents, and telling their son to never discuss the matter again!!? TENS OF THOUSANDS!!

Vincent Couling
2 months 2 weeks ago

I thought the retired cardinal Ratzinger was going to fade into the background so as not to interfere with Pope Francis' 'reign' ... after all, there is presently only one Pope (which is why the title "pope emeritus" seems so very wrong, wrong, wrong! ... when a retired university professor is called professor emeritus, it does not signify that s/he has necessarily relinquished all the duties of her/his former position ... in fact s/he often continues to exercise some of them! The ambiguity of "pope emeritus" is, to my mind, unacceptable! There will, no doubt, be some who will take his current intervention as quasi-infallible teaching, even if it doesn't stand up to rational scrutiny). Pope Francis should not be hobbled by these spurious interjections from the previous pope!!!

Frederic Martel's book "In the closet of the Vatican" devotes an entire section to cardinal emeritus Ratzinger's pontificate, with its multitude of grave missteps which brought the institutional church into grave peril ... and which inevitably burdened his successor enormously.

Cardinal emeritus Ratzinger's present analysis takes extraordinary flights of fancy ... e.g.:

"The mental collapse was also linked to a propensity for violence ... that is why sex films were no longer allowed on airplanes because violence would break out among the small community of passengers."

"At the same time, independently of this development, Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that rendered the Church defenceless against these changes in society."

He claims that paedophilia was "also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate".

Can he really provide hard evidence for these extraordinary claims? Or is the 91 year old perhaps now a little gaga?

john63@rogers.com
2 months 1 week ago

The ONLY reason the church is NOW addressing this 1700 year old problem, is because the number of cases of sexual abuse worldwide within the church became so overwhelming, they couldn't cover them up anymore. For every priest/bishop that abused dozens of non abusing priests/bishops knew, and all remained silent allowing these pervs to molest even more.

Molly Roach
2 months 2 weeks ago

The sexual assault of minors by clerics was going on well before 1968. The analysis of causation is full of holes.

Lisa M
2 months 2 weeks ago

Why is everyone so determined to close their eyes, so certain, with no other theory put forth, that he is wrong, they are all wrong? We all get the scepticism, but we must keep an open mind. As far as the sexual revolution, to suggest, 50 years later that there have been no consequences from it, or no collateral damage from this is simply burying one's head in the sand.

Michael Barberi
2 months 1 week ago

Lisa M,
I don't fully understand your comments. I do not believe anyone is saying that there are no consequences of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, 50 years later. However to suggest or imply that the sexual revolution is a major cause of clergy sexual abuse crisis and the immoral and irresponsible episcopal coverup is, quite frankly, "burying one's head in the sand."
The last thing we need now is to follow what Pope Emeritus Benedict is essentially saying, namely, to go back to the pre-conciliar Church, the Latin Mass and a pray, pay and obey ideology. If Pope Francis and the Bishops, inclusive of Pope Emeritus Benedict, want to resolve the clergy sexual abuse scandal in its entirety, they will follow the Gospel of Christ, conduct a thorough independent investigation, be transparent about the facts and findings, and have the courage to hold themselves accountable and implement the much needed judicial, process and structural reforms. So far, very little is being done.

Lisa M
2 months 1 week ago

Michael, I guess I just feel that we are not even open to listening to some ideas, some solutions. I don't see what Pope Emeritus Benedict said as a contradiction to Pope Francis, nor as a 'this is exactly the cause and nothing else.' I think it is very complicated because it involves a clear lack of empathy towards others, and that can't be taught, or changed overnight. I'm also very concerned with our divided Church, left and right, which is not what our Church is all about. The result is constant negativity, and zero progress, at least as far as we are concerned. Are we even open to listening to any ideas at this point? I genuinely believe Pope Francis is trying to resolve this massive problem, and support (not blind support), not constant criticism, I think is a better choice in the long run.

Michael Barberi
2 months 1 week ago

Lisa M,
I share your frustration and concerns. Like you I also find the disagreements within our Church far too negative and intransigent. Each side believes they are right and few want to listen to the other. This is not unusual in the history of our Church when 'change' is being discussed and advocated. An example is Pope Francis's Amoris Laetitia. My moral theological mentor always cautions me to remember that 'change' in the Catholic Church takes time. However, in our current world we don't want to wait decades for change or even one year. We expect appropriate and speedy decisions especially with respect to the sexual abuse crisis. This is, as you say, a massive problem. Nevertheless, respectful and reasoned criticism helps move the conversation forward, not blind support regardless of the reasons. Sometimes a little 'tension' serves the good. As I always like to say, we find the truth in agreement and disagreement. The bishops and popes are human persons with weaknesses and they make mistakes and serious errors of judgment. However, Christ gives us the grace to get up when we fall, and to do the right thing regardless of the difficulty. In doing what is right and just, there are no negative consequences we cannot handle. Let's pray for Pope Francis and our Church.

Douglas Fang
2 months 2 weeks ago

I really feel sorry the Pope Emeritus. He did not get it, didn’t he? Maybe he is too old to be able to fully understand the changing nature of modern society.

sheila gray
2 months 2 weeks ago

This is embarrassing. Why, Dear God, do they still not “get it”?

Floyd Grabiel
2 months 2 weeks ago

National Catholic Reporter has published the letter, I suggest that all read it. Were I a Priest, I would be appalled at what people might think of me as a result of reading the letter. How in the world, and why do ordinary clergy put up with the ridiculousness that comes out of Rome? The laity has given up on the Princes a long time ago.

karen oconnell
2 months 2 weeks ago

the letter is an embarrassment. the name 'cry baby' comes to mind. it is superficial and focused ONLY on his own judgements. not sure if it the result of his age..regrets....boredom....... incomplete and provides no alternatives -- except:: love God!-- and what does that mean in the up and down of our daily lives??????????.

karen oconnell
2 months 2 weeks ago

the letter is an embarrassment. the name 'cry baby' comes to mind. it is superficial and focused ONLY on his own judgements. not sure if it the result of his age..regrets....boredom....... incomplete and provides no alternatives -- except:: love God!-- and what does that mean in the up and down of our daily lives??????????.

Mark Szewczak
2 months 2 weeks ago

As I recall from the PA grand jury, there were quite a number of priests credibly accused from 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. While the Pope Emeritus provides some interesting thoughts, he seems to have missed something regarding these cases. Alas, it isn’t sufficient to tie this to post conciliar times or the sexual revolution. “Fixing” those things will not fix whatever are the sources of the scandals.

john63@rogers.com
2 months 1 week ago

its been secretly going on since the formation of Catholicism 17 centuries ago, and ALL of the clergy have known about this.

http://www.awrsipe.com/patrick_wall/executive_summary.htm

john63@rogers.com
2 months 1 week ago

Its always blame somone else for sinning. Its those dam homosexuals! those feminist women groups they scream! they scream. Every sunday these very priests the offenders and the rest...the coverup clergy wagged their fingers from the pulpit at the faithful, sternly warning them to NEVER commit the very sins they themselves were committing and covering up. Shame on them. From a former catholic for over 50 years!!

neil allen
2 months 2 weeks ago

HA.

"The retired pope emphasized the importance of recognizing, embracing and defending the most essential and foundational principles of faith and of protecting the authority of the church, particularly in matters of morality."

In matters of morality, the Catholic church is a child rape syndicate, protecting 100% of pedophile priests in 100% of cases, as satan's church would do, in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6-14.

Scott Cooper
2 months 1 week ago

Wow. Other than the comments from Lisa M, everyone commenting thus far exhibits the very traits of what Benedict XI so accurately refers to as the original meaning of Mark 9:42:
“... those who are intellectually arrogant and cause the "little ones" -- the common believer -- to become confused in the faith.”
Such arrogance indeed. And hate, dripping with hate, some of these comments are. I don’t pretend to know even 1/1000th as much as this learned and faithful man. He has probably forgotten more than I will ever know. And I do believe that he was compelled to break his silence on this not because of his love for the institutional church and its worldly authority, but because of his love of our faith in Christ and his sadness of how we have all, even the good fish, have lost our way and given in to some form of moral relativism.
Our faith is not that hard to understand folks, but it can be hard to practice, especially when we try to serve other and lessers masters besides the One True Master, Christ.
I would guess that nearly everyone commenting here is either a Baby Boomer, a GenXer, or maybe one of a small number of Millennials. And as a late Baby Boomer/early GenXer, I can safely say this: Unlike my 94-yo father and his Depression/WWII/Greatest Generation, we all have one thing in common—we are all entitled and spoiled babies who don’t like to be told what to do, denied what we want when we want it, and generally think that the world and God (if He even exists) revolves around Us. I can hear it in the vituperative attacks on Benedict and the Church here—the near glee over the sexual abuse crisis—“We knew they were all hypocrites! See it’s true! Look! Now we have our proof that we don’t need to listen to Them!”
Grow up kids, you’re not only hurting yourselves, but also the “little ones.”
May the Virgin Mary pray for us and may Christ leads us back into a faith that we would readily die for. Amen and good night.

THOMAS E BRANDLIN, MNA
2 months 1 week ago

Precisely, Mr. Cooper! Right-on. Except for Lisa M., they did miss the point. Deacon Tom

THOMAS E BRANDLIN, MNA
2 months 1 week ago

His Emeritus Holiness makes some very interesting points that are well worth considering. I thought we would never again have the distinct pleasure of reading his prose and here we are! Deacon Tom

Scott Cooper
2 months 1 week ago

Thank you Deacon Tom! God bless your ministry.

Sha'Pearl Jones
2 months 1 week ago

I've always appreciated the Pope Emeritus' beautiful style of writing. He is truly gifted and it is a delight to read his writings, even on such a sobering topic.

arthur mccaffrey
2 months 1 week ago

I first read about this letter in the Washington Post earlier today. Wow! who would have thought that secular society in the 1960s could have had such an influence on the secret society known as the Roman Catholic Church? Who would have thought that secular society could have had such an influence on the selection and training of priests in seminaries, and in the selection of Bishops to continue an immutable 2000 yr old secret society known as the RCC? Who would have thought that secular society was so much to blame for the crimes committed by a inward looking secret society which ignored what laity wanted, but preached a sterile, dogmatic, out of date orthodoxy that Pope John 23 tried to update via Vat II, with limited success---all the while opposed by incompetent German bishops like B16? Who knew this immutable church was such a victim of societal trends, just like Madison Ave and Hollywood? Who knew we were members of such a fickle church that changed with the mores of the times instead of standing like a rock, like Peter? Who knew, Bennie, who knew? We were always led to believe that RCC had the words of eternal life, and now we are told that there was immorality and corruption inside the one true , holy and catholic apostolic church? Who Knew? You were the Pope who had the audacity to publish a document which declared that only RCC had the intellectual property rights to Jesus and his good name, while all the other Christian denominations were "not really churches"! . And now you try to tell us that society and social trends made you go astray--really? You used to burn people at the stake for disagreeing with you--and now you try to tell us that RCC was so weak and impressionable that you went all fuzzy in the 1960s, and lost your way? For shame, Bennie, for shame. THANK GOD you retired Bennie, or the Vatican would still be throwing homosexual drug parties under your nose.
You will probably go down in history as one of the most incompetent Popes of the 21st century. I hope no one ever gets the idea of canonising you like that other rascal JPII.--unless they want to call you St. Outoftouch.

Jay Zamberlin
2 months 1 week ago

It's often times painful, gutwretchingly so, to vist this comment section.

America's readership, so married to the specious ideas presented by the Dawning-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius crowed, cemented by don't-give-a-flying-you-know-what milenials (and don't KNOW a bleepin' thing either, but THINK they do, AOC anyone? I mean people so stupid they don't KNOW what THEY DON'T KNOW) are all here to gleefully kick the elderly Prince of the Church, with the mocking tone that really sounds like Satan himself, because they, in the expansive "wisdom" deem that the dottering old geezer ain't "woke."

(News flash: Ratzinger is an acknowledged intellectual giant, you pea-brained, obnoxious piss ants aren't even in his league).

All you Wisenheimers, please, go READ the John Jay (University of Criminal Justice) Report of 2002, on the heals of the worst of the "crisis." IT CONFIRMS EVERTHING Pope Benedict is suggesting.

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/the-nature-and-scope-of-sexual-abuse-of-minors-by-catholic-priests-and-deacons-in-the-united-states-1950-2002.pdf

Really terrifying what has become of our glorious and beloved Church of Christ. God help us!!

Phillip Stone
2 months 1 week ago

Good going, Jay, from someone over 75 and still awake and with memory intact.

Hilary Hutchinson
2 months 1 week ago

I'm afraid Benedict wishes for a church of a 100 years ago when it was pray, pay, and obey. He has not embraced Vatican II, and wants to blame everything except the "culture" which has allowed this abuse to flourish. The abusers and cover-uppers are criminals, and should be tried in civil courts just like Pell was in Australia. The bishops have lost all moral authority over this scandal. It will be very difficult to reclaim. Ordain women!

Hilary Hutchinson
2 months 1 week ago

I'm afraid Benedict wishes for a church of a 100 years ago when it was pray, pay, and obey. He has not embraced Vatican II, and wants to blame everything except the "culture" which has allowed this abuse to flourish. The abusers and cover-uppers are criminals, and should be tried in civil courts just like Pell was in Australia. The bishops have lost all moral authority over this scandal. It will be very difficult to reclaim. Ordain women!

Mister Mckee
2 months 1 week ago

WAY too little, way too late, Benedict:
But thanx for the trip down memory lane!
Nice to see you are still blaming Vatican 2 and the 1968 student riots in European universities for the downfall of the 21st century.

William McGovern
2 months 1 week ago

Please stop the name calling. Be respectful and stick to the issues. You can disagree without being disagreeable

Douglas Fang
2 months 1 week ago

To be honest, I really love Pope Emeritus Benedict. I respect him as a brilliant and exceptional Catholic theologian. However, he seems to be quite a bit behind the curve in understanding modern society, cultures, psychology, technology, etc. His analysis of the issues is very shallow, inadequate, and lacks sincerity.

Lisa M
2 months 1 week ago

Douglas, with all due respect, enlighten us then. Saying he is out of touch, or doesn't get it would suggest you and the other readers so 'outraged' do get it. So what's the solution? We as Catholics most certainly have a right to be outraged at the idea of child abuse and cover up, but if we really want change, and want our Church to be in line with Christ's wishes, it is our duty to do some soul searching as well. Criticizing is just so very easy, but it is harmful, for it enflames others, and offers nothing toward a solution. We should be reading his letter in it's entirety, and put an effort into trying to understand. We also need to recognize our role in all of this, for we might not be perpetrators, or someone who covered up, but we are certainly part of this great divide within our Church.

Vincent Couling
2 months 1 week ago

Lisa, with all due respect, if cardinal emeritus Ratzinger wishes to 'give advice' to Pope Francis in private, that is one thing ... but this public intervention is utterly beyond the pale! NCR has an article on the concern expressed by theologians ... https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/theologians-concerned-about-newly-engaged-role-benedict-pope-emeritus

"Shortly after the release of Benedict's letter, one Italian journalist pointed to the official advice the Vatican gives to retired bishops about how to manage their relationships with their reigning diocesan prelates. "The Bishop Emeritus will be careful not to interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, in the governance of the diocese," states Apostolorum Successores, the Congregation for Bishops latest directory for bishops, released in 2004. "He will want to avoid every attitude and relationship that could even hint at some kind of parallel authority to that of the diocesan Bishop, with damaging consequences for the pastoral life and unity of the diocesan community," it continues. "The Bishop Emeritus always carries out his activity in full agreement with the diocesan Bishop and in deference to his authority," it states. "In this way all will understand clearly that the diocesan Bishop alone is the head of the diocese, responsible for its governance." Or, as theologian Natalia Imperatori-Lee put it about Benedict: "It is crucial that he (and, perhaps more importantly those around him) practice a ministry of silence lest it appear that he wants to undermine the current, only, Bishop of Rome, who is Francis." "To continue to speak on matters the pope is working vigorously to correct in the global, complex reality … that is the church is to encourage dissent [and] to flirt with schism," said Imperatori-Lee, a professor at Manhattan College. "Let the pope be the pope," she advised. "And let the pope emeritus pray for him." "

Lisa M
2 months 1 week ago

Vincent, thank you for your post. It was my understanding that he asked permission from Pope Francis, is that not correct? If I am wrong, and he just sent a letter, like Cardinal Mueller did, well I would be very, very upset with that. I thought I read he asked Pope Francis, and I found his letter to be in full support of our Pope, despite some other takes on it from some in the anti-Francis movement. I certainly agree in principal with what you've quoted, for all the reasons mentioned. I truly hope I'm right on this (regarding getting Pope Francis' approval), because I'll be really disappointed.

Vincent Couling
2 months 1 week ago

Whether or not cardinal emeritus Ratzinger asked permission of Pope Francis to publish an opinion is a red herring. We all know that Pope Francis is a soft touch when it comes to allowing others to express their opinion frankly, and that he has shown nothing but love and respect towards the former pontiff. This is all a distraction from the former pope's responsibility: "as theologian Natalia Imperatori-Lee put it about Benedict: "It is crucial that he (and, perhaps more importantly those around him) practice a ministry of silence lest it appear that he wants to undermine the current, only, Bishop of Rome, who is Francis." "To continue to speak on matters the pope is working vigorously to correct in the global, complex reality … that is the church is to encourage dissent [and] to flirt with schism," said Imperatori-Lee, a professor at Manhattan College. "Let the pope be the pope," she advised. "And let the pope emeritus pray for him.""

Vincent Couling
2 months 1 week ago

Professor Massimo Faggioli provides vital context and analysis at https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/benedicts-untimely-meditation : an excerpt follows: "Benedict XVI claims to have prepared these remarks for the February summit on sexual abuse, but, for whatever reason, they were not published at that time. He writes that Pope Francis and the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Parolin, gave him permission to have the article published in a German-language magazine for the Bavarian clergy. But on the afternoon of April 10 the long text was made available—and in a good English translation—to a select few Catholic and non-Catholic media outlets in the United States that have made it their business to undermine Pope Francis. Who sent it to these outlets? And why to only these and not to others? Were those in charge of communication for the Holy See informed that the article would be publicized and promoted in this way?

The people who can answer all these questions belong not to the Vatican’s official media, which seems to have been surprised by the initiative, but to the parallel papal court that has formed around the pope emeritus. To release Benedict’s article without informing the Vatican press office and other institutional communication channels represents a serious breach of protocol. The Osservatore Romano and Vatican News limited themselves to publishing a short summary of Benedict’s article. But overseas, and especially in the United States, Benedict’s essay has been quickly and predictably weaponized by those who have been trying discredit Francis since the start of his pontificate.

In the United States there are conservative and traditionalist Catholics who are now flirting with schism—or using the threat of schism as a negotiating device. The narrative of the sex-abuse crisis as a product of the Second Vatican Council is an integral part of their strategy. Some would have us believe that aggiornamento naturally leads to every imaginable kind of sexual depravity. Benedict XVI may not be aware of how his own intervention fits into this strategy, but those who organized this press launch know it well. The choice to privilege certain media outlets, which have been attacking the current pope from 2013 onward, is meant to signal that Benedict XVI is their ally. It strongly suggests that the pope emeritus is being manipulated by the Francis’s opponents.

Until now Joseph Ratzinger has been, like all the men who were in the highest positions at the Vatican during the previous two pontificates—including Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone—remarkably silent about the cases still open, and especially about the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was excluded from the college of cardinals by Pope Francis in the summer of 2018 and stripped of his clerical status two months ago after a canonical trial at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The silence of a pope emeritus can be justified as part of the immunity enjoyed by the former sovereign of the Vatican state and/or as an attempt not to interfere with the government of the reigning pope. But now that Benedict XVI has written and released long text precisely on the vexed question of clerical sex abuse, people might wonder why he is not required to answer questions about how these issues were handled under his pontificate and that of his predecessor.

That brings us to a third problem, this one of an ecclesial nature. The Ratzinger thesis on sexual abuse in the church constitutes a counter-narrative that directly feeds opposition to Pope Francis and creates confusion about what to do at this dramatic moment. This counter-narrative leans heavily on the claim that sexual abuse is the result of homosexuality, a claim that has been contradicted by researchers who have studied the evidence. But Benedict XVI is content to repeat the old canard in this essay, which is one reason it has been welcomed so enthusiastically by Francis’s critics. They reject the alternative theory endorsed by Pope Francis, which is that the sex-abuse crisis is fundamentally about clericalism and the abuse of power. It cannot all be blamed on the Sexual Revolution and the proliferation of pornography."

Lisa M
2 months 1 week ago

Vincent- This is deeply troubling. It would appear the anti Francis movement knows no boundaries. There is no way, no way that his intention was to undermine Pope Francis by offering an alternative theory, rather another perspective to a very complex situation. It is also unfortunate that it is being interpreted as an essay that only blames the sexual revolution and ignores personal account, or that it means clericalism is not at it's base. As well, it definitely appears to be another example of the manipulation of Pope emeritus Benedict, as was the case with the previous release of a private letter.
I don't see this as a counter narrative at all, however. Pope Francis has said that clericalism is at the root of this problem. That addresses how no one was held to account, how this spread, how victims were ignored, etc. It explains the "why did this happen", but it does not explain "why would a priest want to sexually abuse a child?". The answer to that is more than just clericalism, or "because I can". I see this as a compliment to Pope's Francis' approach, and because Francis opponents use it to try to cause confusion does not make the message wrong. Joseph Ratzinger has always been portrayed as a right wing member of the Church. Until we rid our leaders of these political titles, and listen to their messages with an open mind, we will continue to be participants in this divide. Our Church is not simply the church of sexual morality, nor is it the church of social justice. It is the Church of Christ, and we should be open to all her teachings. That sometimes requires us to think a little deeper.
For those who continue to attack the Vicar of Christ, under the guise of being the 'true, faithful Catholics", I can only hope they can one day get their egos in check, gain a little humility and perhaps than 'grow a heart' so they learn to understand and have empathy towards their fellow man.

Deplorable Me
2 months 1 week ago

For a moment, forget everyone else. IF YOU, Lisa, want YOUR Church to "be in line with Christ's wishes" then YES...do some soul searching and get the hell out of this false pagan man made BS. FIND. A. REAL CHURCH.

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