Viewpoint: How Benedict's essay on sex abuse is being weaponized

Massimo Faggioli

Massimo Faggioli

Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. writes in Commonweal Magazine

On the evening of April 10, six weeks after the conclusion of the Vatican's summit on the sex-abuse crisis, the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, made known his thoughts on the genesis of that crisis in a five-thousand-plus-word essay sent to a periodical for Bavarian priests, quickly translated into English, and then diffused online by Catholic websites known for their hostility to Pope Francis.

The essay is divided into two parts. The second, theological part is a reflection on the spiritual nature of the church, and mirrors Pope Francis's own approach to the sex-abuse crisis: the pope and pope emeritus agree that the crisis cannot be resolved with only bureaucratic and juridical reforms. Both believe that the crisis involves a spiritual evil that must be confronted in spiritual terms. Benedict writes: "Indeed, the Church today is widely regarded as just some kind of political apparatus. One speaks of it almost exclusively in political categories, and this applies even to bishops, who formulate their conception of the church of tomorrow almost exclusively in political terms. The crisis, caused by the many cases of clerical abuse, urges us to regard the Church as something almost unacceptable, which we must now take into our own hands and redesign. But a self-made Church cannot constitute hope." All this is in keeping with what Francis has said and written on the subject.

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Tags: Abuse, Pope Benedict, Massimo Faggioli,

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