Benedict: Blame the sexual revolution
For six years, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been content to spend retirement practicing “his Mozart at the piano” and tending his “vegetable patch,” said Tom Kington in the Los Angeles Times. But now the former pope, 91, has broken his self-imposed silence with an “incendiary essay.” In it, he blames the church’s sexual abuse crisis on a society-wide “erosion of rules and morality” triggered by the sexual revolution. “In the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely,” Benedict writes. Priests internalized society’s new belief that sexual expression of all kinds was natural and moral, Benedict says, so that even pedophilia came to be seen as “allowed and appropriate.” Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, has blamed “clericalism,” or priests who emphasized power over service, so this new, contradictory analysis has sent “shock waves” through the church.
This is really not good for the faithful, said Tom Gjelten in NPR.org. Catholics now have “two papal perspectives on the clergy abuse crisis” and “may feel free to choose between them.” To this conservative Catholic, Benedict’s “diagnosis of the problem” is far more perceptive, said Michael Brendan Dougherty in NationalReview.com. He traces “the moral anarchy within the church” to “a certain casual or flippant attitude toward God” that became widespread in the 1960s and ’70s. “Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” Benedict asks. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God.” In his critique, Benedict even provides a solution to the crisis—that Catholics must, once again, “fear and honor a living God.”
Benedict’s “self-justifying” letter ignores the facts, said David Von Drehle in The Washington Post. As we now know from investigations worldwide, many abuse cases “occurred long before the fateful ’60s.” But in his arrogance, Benedict believes that “priests raped children and bishops covered it up because the rest of us in society forced them into it through our godless depravity.” In reality, the blame lies with the bishops and cardinals who covered up thousands of cases of child abuse by authorizing hush money payoffs to victims, attacking truth tellers, and sending monstrous offenders on “spiritual retreats” rather than turning them over to the authorities. The only salvation for the “corrupted church” is sincere and prolonged confession and atonement by the hierarchy—not Benedict’s astonishing denial of responsibility. Sorry, but “two popes is one too many.”