Pope Benedict XVI still lives, and he can still write. He took the trouble to try to explain the sexual abuse crisis, by looking back at his career in the Church. Click to read his essay.
Problem is, His Holiness Emeritus has written things that aren’t really true. He writes, “Only where faith no longer determines the actions of a man are such offenses [sexual abuse of minors] possible.”
But even a cursory examination of the record reveals that faith and sexual abuse can and do often co-exist. Did Theodore McCarrick not believe in God and Christ? I can say with no doubt that he did and likely still does. Many sex abusers have been wracked with bitter remorse and genuine penitence–and have proceeded to offend again.
Pope Benedict suggests that sex abuse spiked after the sexual revolution, which caused moral confusion in the Church. But most people have never been confused at all, regarding the criminality of sexually abusing a minor. In the 50’s, the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, up until now: An overwhelming consensus that sexually abusing minors is a crime. In the ancient world, society tolerated the sexual abuse of minors. But not in the modern West.
For the Pope Emeritus to publish a thoughtful essay on this topic: that could conceivably have helped us enormously. If he had given us the full details of what he knew about McCarrick, and when he knew it–that would really help.
No such luck.
Rather, Benedict XVI has embarrassed himself significantly. He has perpetuated the hierarchy’s standard misidentification of the scandal. The Scandal does not = priests sexually abusing minors. The Scandal = bishops and popes neglecting to discipline criminals.
In his essay, the former head of the the Vatican tribunal dealing with sex-abuse cases–and the former supreme legislator of the Church–laments problems with ecclesiastical law. That’s like Bill Gates writing an essay to lament problems with Microsoft Office.
…How about this, gentlemen of the higher clergy:
Take two hundred men, the approximate size of many presbyterates. Between one and four of them will sexually abuse a minor at some point. What do you do then, when you learn of it?
Isn’t that the question?
Why have four decades passed, since Jason Berry first exposed the case of Gilbert Gauthe–and still: no clear, sensible answer for that question?
5 thoughts on “Your Holiness Emeritus, I Disagree”
An interesting editorial here from Vatican News: “The Pope Emeritus’ birthday this year is accompanied by a debate on his recent letter regarding abuse. An analysis of three documents reveals a common thread that unites the Pope and the Pope Emeritus in the fight against this scourge” https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-04/pope-emeritus-benedict-birthday-penitential-abuse.html
I had trouble trying to slog through the Vatican article….I certainly didn’t feel any better after reading it though…. I was so hoping for more though when I saw the article about him speaking up…I am not losing faith in the church… but I’m having a lot of issue with some of the men at the reins….
Let us pray, O God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit,
You are the soul and the life of the Church. Hear the prayers we offer for priests.
We ask this through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, their protector and guide. Amen.
I was just commenting to a family member that I wished we had more transparency from higher officials in the church. We need more information on all levels of the church, but mostly from the Vatican.
After quoting Benedict XVI to you in a different comment, I see that you disagree with his 2019 essay on sex abuse. You wrote that you disagree his statement that: “Only where faith no longer determines the actions of a man are such offenses [sexual abuse of minors] possible.” But what about the words of Saint John, the Beloved Disciple? “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 Jn. 3:6). Do you think that Saint John is in error here, too? I’m sorry, but your criticism of Benedict XVI on this particular issue is not sound. “Mortal Sin” [[such as rape; pedophilia; homosexual conduct; etc]] is always tantamount to a rejection of the “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit. This is what Saint John is saying at 1 Jn. 3:6. This is also what Benedict XVI is saying in the line you criticized.