April 11 (UPI) — The former Pope Benedict XVI ended years of silence to address the abuse scandal in the Catholic church, blaming it on the sexual revolution of the 1960s that he said made pedophilia “allowed and appropriate.”
The former pope wrote a scathing 6,000-word letter to address what he believes caused the decades-long scandal, from changing societal norms to theological changes.
“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” Benedict wrote, according to an English translation posted by Catholic News Agency. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God. It could be said that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely, and a new normalcy arose. Sexual and pornographic movies then became a common occurrence, to the point that they were screened at newsreel theaters.”
He also said too many Christians receive communion as a “purely ceremonial gesture” and too many people see the church as a “political apparatus.”
“Therefore, 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,” Benedict said. “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.”
The unprecedented letter marks an unprecedented moment for a former pope, especially because parts of it contradict Pope Francis‘ approach toward the scandal. The former Pope Benedict XVI hasn’t made public statements since he stepped down as pope six years ago. He got the blessing from Pope Francis to write the letter.
“Since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis, and during the run-up to it, I had to ask myself — even thought, as emeritus, I am no longer directly responsible — what I could contribute to a new beginning,” Benedict wrote.
Pope Francis focuses on the corrupted power of clergy while acknowledging systemic problems that result in abuse being covered up, perpetrators being moved around to new, unsuspecting congregations and victims being demonized.
Benedict’s letter focuses less on reforming the Catholic church and more on the moral declines he said he sees in society and the church.
David Gibson, director of the Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, tweeted that Benedict’s narrative contradicts everything Pope Francis did at the February summit of bishops and cardinals. It puts Pope Francis in a bad spot.
“Another major problem with Benedict’s XVI’s opus blaming the abuse crisis on liberal mores and gays and secularization etc,” Gibson tweeted. “So it is deeply problematic and damaging at a crucial time.”