Pope Benedict XVI
"Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God," Benedict wrote.

We've heard our share of hot takes about the clergy abuse crisis, but they typically come from an obscure pastor trafficking in extremism and attention-grabbing. This time, the words are coming from a figure of considerable authority in such matters: Pope Benedict XVI.

The former pontiff has become the subject of much criticism in the wake of a controversial letter he published in a German magazine widely read by clergy members. In the letter, Benedict sought to pin the epidemic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church on the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He called it an "egregious event" in history which led to lower moral standards around sexual behavior. But that's not all it also led to the "normalization" of pedophilia, which was then "diagnosed as allowed and appropriate."

Are the Claims True?

That's right, according to Pope Benedict, the sexual revolution is to blame for opening the door to widespread pedophilia in the church. In his mind, the corruption of traditional sexual norms was the catalyst which allowed pedophilia to infiltrate the ranks of the clergy. Of course, that wasn't until it affected society as a whole in his version of history, pedophilia only crept into the Catholic Church much later on.

This narrative ignores the fact that pedophilia has been around for millennia, it just wasn't closely studied or reported on. But even should we grant the notion that it became more widespread in the 1960s (despite the data on this being inconclusive), Benedict offered no proof for his claims that the epidemic was the direct result of relaxed attitudes toward sex in general.  

Looking the Other Way

It's also worth pointing out that once pedophilia made its way into the church (whenever that occurred) it found an exceedingly welcome environment in which to fester. Priests often continued abusing children for years, using their power to deflect suspicion and garner false trust. Even when caught, abusive priests were simply shuffled around from diocese to diocese by Church leadership to prevent the issue from being discovered.

But even that fact isn't enough to convince the former pope that this disturbing problem is unique to the culture of silence and enablement inherent in the Catholic Church. In fact, he diagnoses the optimal solution as more religion, not less: "Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God," Benedict wrote.  

Continuing the Conversation

What is your reaction to Benedict's claims? Could the sexual revolution really be to blame for convincing priests it was okay to abuse kids? Or is this yet another example of the Catholic Church trying to deflect blame and avoid taking responsibility for its own shortcomings?

37 comments

  1. Don's Avatar Don

    Wow. What a spineless worm. Victim blaming at its finest. Not surprised at all, this IS the Catholic Church, the largest pedophile cult on the planet.

    1. ~pc~'s Avatar ~pc~

      Hmmm from what I remember reading ...long ago, the Catholic church was first a Pagan church, full of all kinds of debauchery. They took Christianity under their wing, because they were losing members/slaves to manipulate, which equals MONEY!!

      They started with Christ's Mass at midnight after Saint Nicholas's birthday ended. They covered both sides of the coin. Still are...I read one of the pope guys said children being molested doesn't hurt them! They will recover from the incident. I wonder if he was speaking for himself???

      So sad and frustrating, what about the thousands of babies remains found in the Monasteries and churches of old in the basements and in the walls? He must have meant the 1060's or even sooner 960's? No wait, Adam and Eve had sex , their kids had sex and so on....and on...remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Way, BC. Men are horny, they will find someone or thing to get rid if the urge...heck women too. Fight the urge or get married! Church...purge them from your ranks!

    2. Mary Benoit's Avatar Mary Benoit

      It has been going on for 1000 years. I remember the beginning of the “sexual revolution”. The time just brought it to the light of day. The church didn’t want to support priest families.

    3. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Agreement here.

  1. Dr. G.F.B. Jr.'s Avatar Dr. G.F.B. Jr.

    The issue in the past, present, and future is quite simple. The abuse happened due to what’s known as sexual transference. This is a rare psychological condition effecting individuals forbidden to have sexual relations with and or wedding a woman. So, rather than doing the logical and rational thing, which is to abandon the clergy, they transfer all their pent up sexual energies on individuals who are weak or respect and trust them. Children often fall into all three categories, boys especially. Cases have been documented where girls or women are involved, but it’s been mostly boys. It’s sick. It’s disgusting. There might be other theories. But, a reason doesn’t aim to excuse but explain and stop it from happening in the future. I recommend that the clergy be allowed to date and marry. I believe that’s the solution, no matter the root cause.

    1. ~pc~'s Avatar ~pc~

      Jesus made this statement, "Do not listen to those who say don't touch, eat or drink or those who tell you not to marry, they are not of me." I paraphrase of course...

    2. Mary Benoit's Avatar Mary Benoit

      Your proposal would attract a new set of men. But still places women in a silent serving roll. As we tell children to speak up and we will believe them is key.

    3. Kim's Avatar Kim

      I'm of the opinion that those who choose the clergy (or politics) have a predilection to sexual deviation and it is that predilection that drives them to the such positions to begin with. Possibly out of guilt. Once there, they find ample opportunity to act upon their appetites and with the additional excitement of doing so in a supposedly forbidden environment. Religion and Politics have the same issue and forbidding sexual relationships in some religious clergy only adds to the temptation. The frequency of succumbing to temptation has everything to do with the added excitement of fulfilling an inherent predilection in a forbidden environment. However, such persons would probably have acted to a some extent upon their sexual deviation in any circumstance.

    4. CRAIG's Avatar CRAIG

      I agree. People still have basic primal needs and instincts, no matter how we like to think. By denying those instincts, I think it quite probable it ends up becoming a perversion. Besides that, I never quite understood the entire idea of a priest being able to counsel a couple on marriage and living together without ever having been in a relationship themselves--they have no real point of reference to understand what real world relationships are all about.

      It's like someone giving advice on how to build a house when they've never built anything in their lives.

    5. Marisa Nova's Avatar Marisa Nova

      So how do you explain married men - who do have a wife and kids - acting as active pedophiles...?

      1. Jim's Avatar Jim

        Marisa, you're going to irritate people with your logic. It is fun for them to believe every problem has a simple solution. Notice the website this is all taking place upon. A website that literally ordains people, then sells them tools for ministry. It attracts both people who are savvy enough to recognize it for what it provides: a legal loophole satisfying state laws, and the complete opposite, good ol' folk who think the Christian God led them here and now they are genuine doctors, reverends, etc., because they have bibles and very active imaginations. The latter group is extremely judgemental and usually bases its judgment(s) on very little historical research. Good luck getting through to them.

    6. Lisa's Avatar Lisa

      Getting married does not cure pedophilia!!

  1. S. Faye Snyder, PsyD's Avatar S. Faye Snyder, PsyD

    I am a forensic evaluator and clinician. I will say this: In order to create a pedophile, three things must be in place. First, the child must be insecurely attached, because the primary parent is not safe or because there is no daily and consistent loving primary parent. No securely attached infant will ever become a pedophile. Second, the child has to learn at an early age to repress their feelings and voice due to any one of a number of causes. As a matter of fact, that lesson must be in practice before any molestation takes place. Third, the child has to have become molested in an acute or chronic way, as in very young, very often, and/or very invasive. These events create pedophiles, who will go forward and multiply when threatened to secrecy, causing a chain reaction of scapegoating and acting out.

    Openness between sexually healthy humans and molesting children are two different phenomena.These are not events of promiscuity or open sexuality of the sixties. To conflate the two is so naive, it proves he didn't think it necessary to do research. His opinion is shamelessly naive for such a powerful leader with such a crisis of abusive behavior where children need to be safe. It shows that he is not only defensive and dishonest, himself, but that he did not immediately seek to identify these perpetrators and root them out with the force of the church and the law.

    1. Gordon Francis Blaney Jr.'s Avatar Gordon Francis Blaney Jr.

      Well put. I agree with this analysis of the original content. I love your methodical approach to explaining it too. I can't imagine having your job though. That must be tough. I believe forensics is perhaps the most complex, difficult, and hard sub-field in psychology. I appreciate your logical arguments, rational statements, and time honored use of the scientific method. Thanks for posting a comment that was brain food on this topic.

  1. Katelynne Victoria Shouse's Avatar Katelynne Victoria Shouse

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..........LOL, OUT LOUD!!!!!!

  1. Linda Eskridge's Avatar Linda Eskridge

    There isn't a single Catholic priest who has not been taught then agreed to a life of chastity. Acts of paedophilia is not an exception. It's a horrendous crime to treat any human as if sub-human.. Do you know what's worse? Covering up for that crime. Wanna know what's worse than THAT? Just what Pope Benedict chose to do when he wrote that article. In an effort to make light of such crimes, rationalizing, giving excuses for them.

  1. JORGE TERAN's Avatar JORGE TERAN

    That's truth, He knows what He says: God is missing in the Catholic church. (and in all the so called "christian prosperity centers")

  1. Rev Buzz's Avatar Rev Buzz

    So if the answer is that God is missing in our lives, then let him make his all powerful self better known. As a supervisor and manager, I never faulted my subordinates for slacking off, if I did not make my presence and expectations known to them on a regular basis. Once every couple of thousand years isn’t proper supervision.

    1. Marisa Nova's Avatar Marisa Nova

      The 10 Commandments are available 24/7....

  1. flugo's Avatar flugo

    Blame? The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the offending religious people . . . . . and their supervisors for turning a blind eye to it. It is sin, plain and simple. And, it's irresponsible to blame a 'societal trend'. People, not the culture or changing times commit these despicable acts.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    How would the Priests know of any sexual revolution unless they have been subscribing to Playboy or watching porn? But this has been going on for decades, and very possibly hundreds of years, so how would he answer that? The real problem he is facing is the fact that people are now “finally” listening to the victims accounts of abuse and they are at last being believed. Years ago no one dare speak against the church!

    ?❤️

  1. james's Avatar james

    WHAT?.... "According to Pope Benedict, the sexual revolution is to blame for opening the door to widespread pedophilia in the church". Thats like saying I have a flat tire because there is no air in it. OR... Which came 1st (chicken or egg)?. Sexual revolution or not... How about getting ones ego in order, kill the inner infidel & resist pier pressure to smoke, drink, have sex w/ boys and abuse others. Kinda like the drug moto... ~ JUST SAY NO ~ -. What a cop-out excuse for lack of self control, ego and morals. Go by yourself some Gucci clothes & call it a day. BUT buy it on your OWN dime using your OWN modest mance allowance.

  1. james's Avatar james

    Sexual revolution is to blame? Lets compare that to the POTUS did. Mirror trhe sins & make our own $$$. Youtube ~ Ray Stevens - Obama Budget Plan . There is a parallel in mentality here. No sense of decency.

  1. directortice's Avatar directortice

    I would say Television and Capitalism have a part in this.

    I would say ignorant people putting clergy on some kind of higher pedestal than the rest of us have a part in this.

    I believe telling people that they should not read a book because they can't "interpret" it correctly is part of this.

    Hey.... then again... only one in seven churches got a good review in Revelation.... and that one only got it by the skin of it's Belief.... so we're right on track....

  1. John Palmer's Avatar John Palmer

    No person should take advantage of another. In the words of a very wise woman who summed it up very concisely." Do anything you want BUT do not be an A**hole.. KInda rough around the edges but sums up the golden rule in a way many might understand.

  1. Rev. Joshua de Kooker's Avatar Rev. Joshua de Kooker

    The Catholic church should close their doors they have outstayed their welcome all they are doing is adding dung to the dung beetles ball

  1. Kathy Wain's Avatar Kathy Wain

    their hypocrisy and narcissism knows no end. Their low has no bottom

  1. Rodd Gray's Avatar Rodd Gray

    The Vatican has more money than any other business in the world. They can afford to pay hush money left and right. What I’ll never understand is why these priest aren’t in prison? Why can’t the local justice system have any control over this? Smoke and mirrors! Enough this is 2019...ENOUGH! Stop it, end it! Keep it out in the open so they cant hide! If my child was molested, I’d be killing someone. I’ll never understand how a parent can’t fight back for their child’s safety. They might go hide a priest but I’d track him down at any cost!

    1. Mae's Avatar Mae

      I agree with a lot of people's comments on this page but I totally most definitely with out a doubt couldn't agree more with your comnecting!! It's what I said to my significant other about a child in our public school who had been touching other classmates inappropriately and I was told to keep my mouth shut because of the power of the public school and our towns law enforcement that has been working with our school's. ItsI Time we stop talking about these issues and stepping out when no body else is brave enough to and start a revolution that's going to be a defense for all ugly devlish behaviors whether it's a simple person to a person in high ranks!!!!

  1. oldaabill's Avatar oldaabill

    The decline of civility and morals began during the Victorian era. By the time the 1960's rolled around, the damage had already been done. That said, the evils of secular existence is no excuse for ignoring one's vows or as an excuse for evil. If you are a priest you are held to a higher standard of morals. This applies to those studying to be a priest and it applies to the Bishops,. Cardinals, and the Pope.

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    Consider that the Catholic Church goes back long before a Jew was the son of a Jewish God. In Rome slaves were allow to have one God of their master choosing. No one in Israel put a name on their God. It seems that to insult the Jews a new religion was created putting one of their own as a son of God. Similar what the Greeks did with their Gods and myths. Gods having children. The Prophet Muhammad is a descended of Joseph who travel to Mecca to drink the spring waters. So the legend says.

    1. Kim's Avatar Kim

      the Catholic Church did not precede the coming of Messiah. That is well-documented.

  1. Michel Bola's Avatar Michel Bola

    I don't think Poor Francis' papacy is at risk of any wrong doing at attached. I believe Pipe Francis "elected", to a job where such sexual abuses have happened for a millennium.... unfortunately, now people are screening at Pope Francis to clean up the problem which will take decade's to do. As for Pope Benedict ("there heratic"), his notion that such sexual abuses problems were a result of the 1960's sexual revolution is pure hog wash.... abuse by clergy has been going on for hundreds of years... The problem in part is that Prest are not allowed to marry, and raise their own families. Until church policies change, it will be increasingly difficult for the Catholic Church to find dedicated servants to the church, and every candidate seeking vocation with the church will be heavily scrutinized! My prayers are with Pope Francis and, the new era of Priest's.

    1. Mary Benoit's Avatar Mary Benoit

      Priest abuse has gone on forever. In the 50s I remember my father having a talk with my brother about not being alone with the priest. As an altar boy, sign up only where 2 altar boys were needed, and on. Men have always been breaking their religious codes in favor of premarital sex when women are to remain “chaste”. Men seeking power and control along with sexual release are still almost standard behavior we have slot to change. When will women be consider people? When will children be believed and cherished?

  1. Minister Catherine's Avatar Minister Catherine

    I've had a hard time with this new Pope long before this came out. I disagree with adding more verbiage to the Lord's prayer, somehow making it better. How does that work? Now he is changing what is a sin and what is not a sin, showing how much money you have is now a sin, really. Explain how this pertains to the pope himself, how about those red shoes. Not a popular move. Now the pedophiles in this world were caused by the 60"s. That is ridiculous, these people have been around since before Christ came to the world, so he died giving a free forgiveness for all people including pedophiles, so get real with yourself and try again. Until you can admit these truths to yourself, then and only then, will you find peace within yourself, and be a more effective man and pope.

  1. Mary Benoit's Avatar Mary Benoit

    This has been going on forever. Now having a family to monitor some behavior the priest has more time and opportunity to abuse undetected. The system encouraged those men who do not have a strong desire for a family lifestyle.

  1. directortice's Avatar directortice

    I wonder what Father Guido Sarducci would have to say....

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