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.