Breaking years of silence on major church affairs, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written a lengthy letter devoted to clerical sex abuse in which he attributes the crisis to a breakdown of church and societal moral teaching and says he felt compelled to assist “in this difficult hour.”
The 6,000-word letter, written for a small German Catholic publication and published in translation by other outlets Thursday, laments the secularization of the West, decries the 1960s sexual revolution and describes seminaries that became filled during that period with “homosexual cliques.”
The pope emeritus, in emphasizing the retreat of religious belief and firm church teaching, provides a markedly different explanation for the abuse crisis than that offered by Pope Francis, who has often said abuse results from the corrupted power of clergy.
“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” Benedict wrote, according to the Catholic News Agency, which published the full text in English. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God.”
Since abdicating the papacy six years ago, Benedict — living in a monastery inside Vatican City walls — had remained nearly silent on issues facing the church, in part to yield full authority to his successor. But Benedict’s decision to speak out highlights the unprecedented and awkward position facing the ideologically divided Roman Catholic Church, which has — for the first time in six centuries — two potential authority figures who hold sometimes differing views….