Pope Benedict XVI has come out of his retirement to stir some drama in the Catholic Church as he waded into its ongoing sexual abuse epidemic in a rare essay. Published in the German magazine for priests, Klerusblatt, the retired pope blamed the sexual revolution, gays, and an "absence of God" for the ongoing sexual abuse scandal, CNN reports.
Citing the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Benedict wrote, "Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of '68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate." He goes on to say that liberal attitudes toward sex caused "the extensive collapse of the next generation of priests."
Benedict said that these issues trickled down into seminaries, which became bastions of homosexuality.
"There were -- not only in the United States of America -- individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to bring about a kind of new, modern Catholicity," he writes."In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries."
A recent New York Times feature examined the lives of closeted gay priests, many of whom emphasized the fearful and closeted nature of being gay in seminary. Benedict's comments continue the line that blames gay priests for the sex abuse epidemic, even though there is no evidence that links homosexuality to pedophilia.
Benedict also blamed a societal turning away from the church for the epidemic. "Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?" he asked. "Ultimately the reason is the absence of God."
"This is an embarrassing letter," Catholic theologian Brian Flanagan wrote on Twitter, according to CNN. "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."
Benedict's entering into the ongoing sexual abuse epidemic was seen by some as flaring up an ongoing schism between Benedict's conservative Catholic supporters, who miss his doctrine-heavy papacy and supporters of the more liberal Pope Francis.
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