The Dallas Morning News

Benedict links crisis, sexual revolution

Pope emeritus blames retreat of morals for church’s predicamen­t

- By CHICO HARLAN and STEFANO PITRELLI

ROME — Breaking years of silence on major church affairs, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written a lengthy letter devoted to clerical sex abuse in which he attributes the crisis to a breakdown of church and societal moral teaching and says he felt compelled to assist “in this difficult hour.”

The 6,000word letter, published Thursday by a Catholic outlet and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, laments the seculariza­tion of the West, decries the 1960s sexual revolution, and describes seminaries that became filled during that period with “homosexual cliques.”

The pope emeritus, in emphasizin­g the retreat of religious belief and firm church teaching, provides a markedly different explanatio­n for the abuse crisis than that offered by Pope Francis.

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportion­s?” Benedict wrote, according to the Catholic News Agency, which published the full text in English. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God.”

Since abdicating the papacy six years ago, Benedict — living in a monastery inside the Vatican City walls — had remained nearly silent on issues facing the church, in part to yield full authority to his successor, Pope Francis. But Benedict’s decision to speak out shows the unpreceden­ted and awkward position facing the ideologica­lly divided Roman Catholic Church, which has — for the first time in six centuries — two potential authority figures who hold sometimesd­iffering views.

Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, confirmed the authentici­ty of the letter in an email.

 ?? 2014 File Photo ?? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had remained quiet on issues facing the church since abdicating the papacy six years ago.
2014 File Photo Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had remained quiet on issues facing the church since abdicating the papacy six years ago.

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