Former Pope Benedict XVI has unexpectedly weighed in on the scourge of child abuse throughout the Catholic Church, blaming the clandestine behavior of deviant clergymen on the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
"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 a 6,000-word letter published in Klerusblatt, a German magazine for priests.
"Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms. The mental collapse was also linked to a propensity for violence. That is why sex films were no longer allowed on airplanes because violence would break out among the small community of passengers. And since the clothing of that time equally provoked aggression, school principals also made attempts at introducing school uniforms with a view to facilitating a climate of learning. Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of '68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate."
Benedict added that modernization contributed to "the extensive collapse of the next generation of priests."
"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 to their dioceses," Benedict wrote
The former pontiff also blamed gay people...
"In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established," he writes, "which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries."
...and those who questioned the Church's fundamentalist teachings about sex.
"There could no longer be anything that constituted an absolute good any more than anything fundamentally evil; there could be only relative value judgments," Benedict wrote.
The pushback on social media has been harsh.
Perhaps the problem is and was predatory priests.
Even prominent Catholics are crying foul.
"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," tweeted Catholic theologian Brian Flanagan.
Benedict also complained that the United States and Rome could never see eye to eye on what to do with priests who abuse kids. Rome preferred light punishment, while the US had a "zero tolerance" policy.
Rome's approach "could not be accepted by the American bishops," he wrote, "because the priests thus remained in the service of the bishop and thereby could be taken to be still directly associated with him."
Nevertheless, Benedict did offer a solution: more God.
"Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?" he asks. "Ultimately the reason is the absence of God."