Ex-Pope Benedict XVI breaks silence on church's sex abuse crisis and blames the sexual revolution and liberals
Pope Benedict XVI has broken his silence in a rare essay on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, claiming that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the liberalization of the church's moral teaching.
In the 11-page analysis published today in a German magazine for priests, Klerusblatt, the former Pope also reveals some of the behind-the-scenes struggles between the Vatican and American bishops in handling the crisis and admits that the Vatican was initially overwhelmed in dealing with it.
Catholic News Agency first published the letter in English on Wednesday afternoon.
A top Vatican official has confirmed the essay's authenticity to CNN. Since his resignation in 2013, Benedict has rarely left his monastery high on a hill in Vatican City. In his farewell address as pope, Benedict promised to stay "hidden" from the world, though he has spoken out occasionally on church matters.
Nearly 92, Benedict appears to be frail but in relatively good health.
"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 though, as emeritus, I am no longer directly responsible -- what I could contribute to a new beginning," Benedict wrote, in explaining why he is speaking out now.
But his comments on the sex abuse crisis seem certain to inflame tensions between conservative Catholics, who largely blame homosexuality and lax sexual ethics for the scandal, and liberals, who say there is no known connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.
As word of Benedict's essay spread Wednesday evening, conservative Catholics hailed it, while others called it "embarrassing."
"This is an embarrassing letter. The idea that ecclesial abuse of children was a result of the 1960s, a supposed collapse of moral theology, and 'conciliarity' is an embarrassingly wrong explanation for the systemic abuse of children and its coverup," wrote Catholic theologian Brian Flanagan on Twitter.
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