Retired Pope Benedict XVI, acknowledging his role in helping the Church come to terms with the clerical sexual abuse crisis, wrote an article outlining his thoughts about what must be done now.
Seeing the crisis as rooted in the “egregious event” of the cultural and sexual revolution in the Western world in the 1960s and a collapse of the existence and authority of absolute truth and God, the retired Pope said the primary task at hand is to reassert the joyful truth of God’s existence and of the Church as holding the true deposit of faith.
“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. 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,” he wrote.
The Pope’s remarks, presented as a compilation of “some notes”, were to be published in Klerusblatt, a German-language Catholic monthly journal for clergy in Bavaria. Several news outlets released their translations of the text earlier today (April 11).
Given the February Vatican gathering of presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences “to discuss the current crisis of faith and of the Church”, and given his role as pope during “the public outbreak of the crisis”, the retired Pope felt it appropriate he also help contribute “to a new beginning”, he said.
Pope Benedict added that he contacted Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, before releasing the article.
The retired Pope, who turns 92 on April 16, led the universal Church from 2005 to 2013 and for 23 years before that headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with handling cases of the abuse of minors by priests. He also served as a theological consultant during the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965.
Beginning in the late 1960s, while Western society at large was facing the “death” or disappearance of God and any moral compass, he said, the Church’s own moral theology suffered “a collapse that rendered the Church defenceless against these changes in society”.
A misreading of the Second Vatican Council, he said, shifted the Church’s understanding of revelation, resulting in a diluted or shape-shifting morality that was no longer grounded in natural law and the existence of absolute good and evil; morality could only make “relative value judgments” contingent on the moment and circumstances, he wrote.
“Indeed, in many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude toward the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world,” he wrote.