Pope Benedict XV1 has a narrow vision and is a prisoner of his rigid psychological formation.

The Irish Times
Pope recalls year ‘stained’ by child sex abuse crisis
PADDY AGNEW

POPE BENEDICT XVI conceded yesterday that 2010 had been a year sullied by the child sex abuse crisis which has plagued the Catholic Church for the last 12 months.

Making his traditional Christmas address to the Roman Curia, the pope argued that 2010, the Year For Priests, had begun with “great joy” only for it to unfold “so differently from the way we expected”.

“We were all the more dismayed, then,” he said, “when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its anti-thesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”

Quoting the vision of the 12th-century saint Hildegard of Bingen, the pope said that “the face of the church is stained with dust”, adding: “We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal . . . We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred.

“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life . . .”

The pope returned to one of his recurrent ideological obsessions, namely moral relativism, when he suggested that the church’s mishandling of sex abuse offenders has to be seen in “the context of our time”.

While acknowledging “the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility”, he also said: “In the 1970s paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself . . .”

Pope Benedict has long argued that post-1960s moral relativism, the idea that moral principles have no objective standards, represents one of the biggest challenges facing modern man.

Yesterday, he insisted: “For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which judical and political structures cannot function . . .”

As he reflected on a wide variety of issues – child pornography, the persecution of Christian minorities in the Middle East, the threat to Europe’s Christian heritage – the pope concluded that “our faith . . . is often asleep”.

Commentary

Last year was no worse than many other recent years for Catholic priests. What transpired was the revelation of how the Catholic Church put itself above civil law and did not properly deal with paedophile sexual preditors. Putting new policies in place will limit the opportunities for clerical paedophilia in the future. That can only be a good thing. The disaster for European culture is the sense of betrayal felt by many ardent Catholics across Europe and the European Diaspora in North and South America and in Australia. The Vatican itself, in confusing its role as a centre for religious belief as opposed to a state, has not faced the truth and consequences of these revelations. The idea that moral relativism had eliminated the concepts of good and evil at the extremes is absurd. Most people do not bother themselves in philosophical gymnastics in learned journals. The Pope has engaged in such activities throughout his adult life and the psychological consequences are immediately obvious. Human characteristics are usually distributed in a bell shaped normal curve. Sexual activities have extremes also. Paedophilia is one of those. Society as a whole is repulsed by this and its practitioners differ in being drawn to this. What society can discourage is the sexualisation of pubescent and younger children. How to do this is not that simple. Even codes of practise for the print media and television are difficult to author.

Persecution of religious minorities occurs throughout history. Why is anti-semitism? What is anti-catholicism? What was going on in the republic of John Charles McQuaid? What were the Crusades? There is no doubt that the growth of Islam is a threat in Europe to the Christian heritage. What is not at all agreed is whether this is fundamentally significant in that it subverts Human Rights and the fundamental constitution of the European Union. Sharia law will be resisted by me vigorously.

Paedophilia in the Catholic Church has itself done more harm to the Christian heritage recently than anything else that I can think of.

Reformation in the Catholic Church cannot come quickly enough. Mandatory clerical celebacy is an anachronism. Without change the future is bleak for the Catholic Church. That is their choice. The Catholic Church is not a democracy but there is no requirement by Jesus Christ that the clergy must be celebate. Over to you Hans Kung. I have had enough of Messrs Wojtyla and Ratzinger.