Benedict XVI addresses Church’s sex-abuse scandal

Pope Emeritus says crisis cannot be understood apart from its wider social context and the concurrent collapse of Catholic moral theology

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. (Credit: Mazur/

In an essay published Thursday at CNA, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI offered his thoughts about the sex abuse crisis facing the Church. Benedict reviewed the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and examined its effects on priestly formation and life, before suggesting the Church’s proper response.

“Today, the accusation against God is, above all, about characterizing His Church as entirely bad, and thus dissuading us from it. The idea of a better Church, created by ourselves, 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,” Benedict wrote in “The Church and the Scandal of sexual abuse,” published April 11.

The former pope said the sex abuse crisis cannot be understood apart from its wider social context, noting that “in the 1960s an egregious event occurred … the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely, and a new normalcy arose.”

“This was in many ways a very difficult time … the extensive collapse of the next generation of priests in those years and the very high number of laicizations were a consequence of all these developments.”

Concurrently but independently, “Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that rendered the Church defenseless against these changes in society,” he wrote.

The crisis of moral theology led to an abandonment of the idea of intrinsic evil, and a rejection of the role of the Magisterium by some theologians, to which the 1993 encyclical Veritatis splendor was, in part, a response.

The emeritus pope also said there must be a profound appreciation of the astoundingness of the Incarnation, and, through it, Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

“The Second Vatican Council was rightly focused on returning this sacrament of the Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ … to the center of Christian life and the very existence of the Church. In part, this really has come about, and we should be most grateful to the Lord for it.”

But “a rather different attitude is prevalent,” he said. “What predominates is not a new reverence for the presence of Christ’s death and resurrection, but a way of dealing with Him that destroys the greatness of the Mystery,” citing declining participation in Sunday Mass and treatment of the Eucharist as “a mere ceremonial gesture.”

“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.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. Your Fellow Catholic says

    The Emeritus gets quite a few facts wrong. He says, some truly crazy things: that fighs would break out on airplanes because they showed sex films, and that their manner of dress caused violence. He blames canon law, yet completeley overlooks the fact that many parts of relevant canon law date back to the early twentieth century, and he was in aplace to reform it with the post VII version. He blames post Vatican II seminary educational reforms, even though there was more abuse by priests ordained in the 1950s than in the 1970s. Worst of all, he completely absolves himself of any responsibility for the coverup, even though he was in the best position of anybody for three decades to know what was going on. He conducted and concluded the…

    • Anonymous says

      If they showed such a film on any flight I was on, you bet I’d fight it.

    • Pope Benedict: “The long-prepared and ongoing process of dissolution of the Christian concept of morality was, as I have tried to show, marked by an unprecedented radicalism in the 1960s. In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.”
      So you see it was the liberalism of Vatican II which caused this homosexual sex abuse scandal.

      • Anonymous says

        No Ronnie, I don’t see that. The priest sex abuse crisis started well before Vatican II.

        • Open your eyes then. It’s apparent that Vatican II only escalated the homosexual sex abuse by encouraging widespread homosexuality in the seminaries and liberalism of sexual morals.

  2. Keith w Petersen says

    It is a real shame and scandal that he could not follow the example of JPII and stayed in the petrine office. He seems quite lucid in this letter and reminds me of his earlier writings in style and teaching candor. 6 years since he left office. Six years…

    I further cannot understand his praise of Francis either.

    • Michael P. Mc Crory. says

      We can only hope that it was NOT Pope
      Benedict who praised the utter scoundrel,
      Pope Francis in those words at the end
      his article.
      One confusing Pope is enough.

  3. Saying what the pope should say. Hmm…

    • Benedict is a great Pope: ”Above all, a criterion for the appointment of new bishops was now their “conciliarity,” which of course could be understood to mean rather different things. Indeed, in many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude towards the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world.” Read and learn.

  4. Makes me cry with sadness and joy.

    Why did you go Holy Father?

    Imagine these words from the Chair of Peter, versus the “retired Chair” of Peter. Or is this part of the Chair of Peter?

    • There is so much to learn in this teaching. ”Until the Second Vatican Council, Catholic moral theology was largely founded on natural law, while Sacred Scripture was only cited for background or substantiation. In the Council’s struggle for a new understanding of Revelation, the natural law option was largely abandoned, and a moral theology based entirely on the Bible was demanded.”

      • I don’t know about you, but I’d rather stick near Scripture than throw it under the bus in favor of some sort of “natural law”, which actually has no basis in nature.

        • Anonymous says

          You can learn a great deal, by being involved in the Church, and asking your questions of well-known Catholic clerics, if they happen to be in town for an event– or if you happen to attend an event where they are at. You can get lots of good information, “straight from the horse’s mouth,” so to speak!

      • Anonymous says

        Natural Law is found in the Bible. It is found in the correct way in which God made everything, in the beautiful design of His Creation. To follow Natural Law, means to follow God’s Law. It is the basis of our entire civilization, as well as our religion. Catholic Moral Theology was shockingly abandoned, after the Council. I spoke with some very excellent, “exiled” and persecuted professors of Moral Theology (for example, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, now deceased) who got kicked out of many Catholic universities and seminaries, after the Council– because they taught Moral Theology correctly.

  5. Peter Cameron says

    A little essay, a little booklet—-all a little too late—especially without a mea culpa for not having addressed this while he was Pope.

  6. And exactly WHO is to blame?

  7. Anonymous says

    To Jackie: Answer to your question of “who is to blame?”

    In the 60’s the revolution was funded by the corporate big guys like Rockefeller and, Ford while the rhetoric and organization was managed by the offspring of European/Russian bolsheviks, many of whom were secular Jews like Saul Alinsky,, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Paul Ehrlich and Alan Guttmacher.

    And “Catholics” got on board with them—Fr. Robert Drinan, JS, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and most Catholic bishops—all of whom were registered Democrats. Consider the damage done by men like Cardinal Roger Mahony, Abp Ted McKarrick and Cardinal Law.. Catholic education was for the most part taken over by the Left, especially at the university level (i.e., Notre Dame)…

    • To follow Christ is a big responsibility! The Church made a big mistake, abandoning governing responsibility for “individual freedoms,” during this time! Those who rejected Christ and His Church at this time– should have left the Church, or been kicked out. This was also the “Silent Apostasy” which Pope St. John Paul II said he feared to deal with, lest the Church collapse!

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      The abuse started in the 1940s and 1950s. Not the 1960s. So if the sixties are to blame, then it’s effects would have taken hold sometime after that. But already by the 1970s, priests ordained in that decade were less likely to abuse than priests ordained in the 1950s.

      • I think you’re mistaken. The abuse was at it’s peak in the 60’s. The sexual liberation immorality might have begun in the late fifties but the majority of abuse was in the 60’s.

        • Your Fellow Catholic says

          Ronnie, priests ordained in the 1970s were less likely to abuse than priests ordained in the 1950s. It’s a fact.

          • Your so-called facts can’t escape the reality of widespread infiltration of the homosexuals in the seminary and Priesthood in the 60’s and perhaps earlier under cover, but Vatican II ushered the total openness to anything goes. I do agree however that the Church needed reform but the misrepresentation of Vatican II was the instrument for the forces of evil to enter the Church and try to completely destroy the Church,

    • Anonymous says

      Vatican II had something to do with it too

    • Anonymous says

      Yes! And the Church stopped her discipline and governance, worldwide, in favor of permissive “individual religious freedoms!” So– clerics started to “make their own decisions”– some of which have been just terrible!

  8. Pope Benedict, in this letter, is trying to wash his hands of any responsibility for the horrible and criminal abuse and scandals that occurred on his watch both as Pope and Prefect of the CDF. He is nearing the end of his life and it can be surmised he wants to cement his legacy for possible sainthood. The degradation in the Church and society cannot be blamed on the “60’s” or Vatican II, we must take responsibility…we are to blame for not following Christ and living lives of holiness.

  9. Michael McDermott says

    The Sexual Abuse Scandal is primarily a Homosexual Ephebophile Pederast phenomenon, and not as some would say a’ paedophile’ scandal. Given the stark nature of the facts, and utter abandonment of them by the John Jay study amongst others, openly confronting Pederasty is the Key to ending the abuse scandal.

    Columnist Randy Engle has outlined the subject comprehensively, and should be read by all concerned parties.
    SEE Pederasty and paedophilia–What’s the difference? And what difference does it make? Part II
    By Randy Engel
    April 4, 2019

    A Short Primer on the Nature of Perversion
    One of the unique hallmarks of contemporary society has been the successful organization,…

  10. Steve Bannon now lives in Rome for several months of the year. His goal in doing so is to stir things up in the Church. He is not a fan of Pope Francis and Bannon has the support of some mega-rich donors who want to influence the selection of the next Pope. Pope Francis, it seems, is too much about mercy and not enough about severity. It is suspected Bannon may have had something to do with Pope Benedict’s letter.

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