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Benedict XVI responds to criticism of his essay on the Church and the sexual abuse crisis

In a brief statement, the former pope pointed to a “general deficit” in the reactions to his essay, saying that many critical responses missed the very point he was making.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends a consistory for the creation of new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in this Feb. 22, 2014, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Aug 27, 2019 / 08:49 am (CNA).- Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has responded to criticism of his essay on the abuse crisis, saying many negative reactions have confirmed his central thesis that apostasy and alienation from the Faith are at the heart of the crisis – by not even mentioning God in their critique of his essay.

In a brief statement in reaction to such criticism published in German magazine “Herder Korrespondenz,” the former pope pointed to a “general deficit” in the reactions to his essay, saying that many critical responses missed the very point he was making.

Published in April by Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic Register, and in the original German by CNA Deutsch as well as other media, Benedict’s essay described the impact of the sexual revolution as well as – independent from it – a collapse of moral theology in the 1960’s, before suggesting how the Church should respond by recognizing that “only obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ can point the way.”

Reactions to the essay have been particularly strong in Germany, where insiders say the former pope, a native Bavarian, has long been subject to sustained criticism from certain quarters.

Benedict cited the example of a critical response to his essay from a German professor of history, pointing out that while the professor’s response was four pages long, “the word God does not appear [once],” even though apostasy was the central claim of the scholar’s argument.

Such a critique of his essay thus “shows the seriousness of a situation, in which the word ‘God’ in theology even seems to be marginalized.”

“As far as I can tell, in most reactions to my contribution, God does not appear at all,” the former pope wrote. “Therefore, the central issue I wanted to raise is not being discussed.”

Criticism of this kind only served to demonstrate “the seriousness of the situation,” Benedict continued, “in which the word God often appears to be on the margins, even in theology.”


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21 Comments

  1. Pope Benedict needs to accept the changes in social value changes of the 60’s. Society has evolved and changed all through history. He does not approve of the evolutionary path. He can’t stop evolution. Even if he doesn’t approve of the path it takes. Yet the 60’s are not the cause of all the Church’s problems.

    • Mary, it seems to be the case that you have fallen into the logical fallacy of equivocation. To use the word “evolution” so as to try to imply a natural progression of some sort in society, with the artificial, political and forced decadent faction of the 1960’s makes your argument incoherent. Let’s leave the biological term of “evolution” out of the discussion, for the importance of the subjects merits a better response on your behalf.

    • You don’t understand anything at all. Pope Banedict states so clearly. You argue that times have changed; times have allways changed. The li, not subjecght of the beacon was and is Jesus and his church. Its values are permanent, not subject to fads or demands from the FAITHFUL!

    • You ought to read some C. S. Lewis. Specifically The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

      ““But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the Governor. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”

      ““I have seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it Going bad in Narnia.””

    • Isn’t he talking about the sexual revolution of the 60’s? If that is an evolution, then it was an evolution into moral depravity (nothing to boast about)!

  2. Someone in this comment thread has inadvertently swerved into the sad truth that rampant secularism has at least partially entered The Church.
    The person commenting seems to be falling into the biggest sin in The Church in recent decades–which is got a sizable contingent of so-called Catholics have errantly hoping to you and started to treat the church nothing more than independent worldwide all kind of political party or something, and that the Holy Father Pope Francis is like “President” Francis, and that B-16 is former president Benedict. The Holy Father Pope Francis is who Pope Francis IS, and Benedict was. The Holy Father + Pope are who he IS–they are not some cutesy nickname like Puff Daddy or P-Diddy or something.
    In posting for the former pontiff “get with the times” and conform his views to modern day sexual mores’, the poster alarmingly the church forgets the truism that “The Church was established by Jesus and charged with FORMING society, not to conform to and rubber stamp societies decadence and decay”

  3. By the myth of social evolution we have progressed from the fictional “divine right of kings” to the equally fictional DEFINING RITE of the courts—e.g., the 1993 Supreme Court fatwa of Roe v. Wade (abortion on every street corner) and further devolution into the 2015 fatwa of Obergefell v. Hodges (the oxymoron gay “marriage”).

    The theory of social evolution is the full employment act for a glut of footnote-intoxicated law school graduates lusting after a corner office with windows.

    Such is the delusion of a self-appointed vanguard elite and the indoctrinated street-level mass of clueless sycophants. To affirm anything more runs the risk of being branding as racist, a xenophobe, a homophobe, a sexist male Caucasian bigot, and as a likely target for yet another round of jungle-culture predatory litigation.

    Self-celebratory social evolution—C.S. Lewis’ “chronological snobbery”—was disproved in the trenches of World War I.

    • Good points Peter. But Roe is a bit older. Decided in a 7-2 decision in 1973. Justice Blackmun for the majority and Justices White and Rehnquist dissenting.

      • Typo. Good catch.

        My fantasy is that whenever Roe v. Wade is returned to the Supreme Court it will be overturned largely because the plaintiff had no legal standing. Later a pro-life advocate, at the time she was not even pregnant.

    • {Pope Benedict as far as I am concerned IS THE POPE! We cannot have 2 popes. It seems to me that he was forced to resign because he always spoke against homosexuality and the many homosexually inclined cardinals in the Vatican forced him to leave his position as Pope Benedict XVI.-

  4. When Bultmann began the demythologizing process the real Resurrection, the Real Presence articles of faith were in consequence eradicated by a rationalist process ideology intimately linked to a universal evolutionary process [ecclesiastically paradigmatic change subject to a new epoch] that has no relevance to reality since its existence is entirely in the mind. Faith and Reason, that is Faith in the Eternal Word correspond directly to the reality of the universe, to objective truth acquired by reason and by divine revelation. Benedict knows this dynamic quite well [see Jesus of Nazareth].

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