After the publication of an expert report on cases of sexual violence against children and young people in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, a consistent investigation is required. Lucas Wiegelmann, head of the Forum department, analyzes the allegations.

The essay is almost three years old – in view of current allegations against Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. but, he doesn’t let it stand in a good light. Blame for the abuse in the church is also the change in sexual morality.

IIn an essay published in 2019, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. also blamed the upheavals of the 1968s for the abuse scandals that are currently shaking the Catholic Church. Also Benedict XVI. had been heavily incriminated in a report published this week. Specifically, it is about misconduct in dealing with four cases of sexual abuse during his time as archbishop of the diocese of Munich and Freising – the statements of the former head of the church do not consider the experts to be credible.

In the 2019 essay, the 94-year-old writes that one could say “that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980 the previously applicable standards in questions of sexuality completely collapsed and a lack of norms arose, which in the meantime efforts have been made to intercept”. This can be read, among other things, on the website of “Domradio”, which belongs to the Archdiocese of Cologne. In Germany and Austria, for example, there was advertising that broke taboos or works intended as educational films that “were then accepted as a matter of course as a general possibility”. There, for example, sexual intercourse was shown or “two completely naked people in large format in a close embrace”.

From this development, Benedict concludes in his essay:

“One of the freedoms that the revolution of 1968 wanted to fight for was this complete sexual freedom, which no longer allowed any norms. The violent nature of those years is closely related to this mental breakdown. In fact, sex tapes were no longer allowed on planes due to violence erupting among the small community of passengers. Because the excesses in the area of ​​clothing also provoked aggression, school principals have also tried to introduce school clothing that should enable a climate of learning.”

In addition, it was part of the “physiognomy” of this time that “pedophilia was now also diagnosed as permitted and appropriate”. Among other things, it was “a difficult time” for “the young people in the church”: “I have always wondered how young people in this situation could approach the priesthood and accept it with all its consequences.”

Also at this time, according to the former pope, independent of general changes in sexual morality, a “collapse of Catholic moral theology occurred, which left the church defenseless against what was happening in society.” He then describes this process in detail. He concludes by stating that in the 1960s a “long-prepared and ongoing process of dissolution of the Christian conception of morality” experienced a “radicality that had never existed before”.

The “dissolution of the moral teaching authority” had to “necessarily” have an effect on the areas of life of the church. For example, in the case of seminaries in preparation for this office, a “large-scale collapse” of the previous form was observed. This was expressed, among other things, in the formation of “homosexual clubs that acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminars”.

As for pedophilia, “as far as I remember,” it only became a major issue in the late 1980s. In the USA it has already become a “public problem”. In Rome, however, people were of the opinion that “the temporary suspension from the priestly office (must) be sufficient to bring about purification and clarification.”

“Very important to counter the lies and half-truths of the devil with the whole truth”

He had agreed with his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, that canon law had to be amended so that perpetrators could also be excluded from the clergy. Pope Francis has now even made further reforms. In such a case, however, one must also be able to clearly prove the fact. In any case, it is “important to see that such misconduct by clerics ultimately damages faith: such offenses are only possible where faith no longer determines human actions.”

Towards the end of his text, the former pope asks how abuse could have spread. “In the last, the reason is the absence of God,” he writes. In Western society, God is “absent” and has “nothing more to say to them.” That’s why pedophilia was able to spread. The solution to the problem consists, among other things, in finding a way back to faith: “Above all, we must learn to recognize God as the basis of our lives (…).”

The former Pope concludes that the Church must “do everything possible to protect the gift of the Holy Eucharist from abuse”. He also became aware of this in conversations with “victims of pedophilia”. The “accusation against God” is mostly about badmouthing the church as a whole. That is why it is “very important to counter the lies and half-truths of the devil with the whole truth: yes, there is sin in the church and evil. But there is also today the holy Church, which is indestructible.”