Ex-Pope Benedict blames church abuse scandal on sexual revolution of 1960s

Former Pope Benedict XVI penned a lengthy letter that blames the "all-out sexual freedom" of the 1960s for ongoing scandals involving sexual abuse by priests.

Benedict, who resigned as pope in 2013, argued in a column translated for the National Catholic Register that social upheaval in the 1960s led to wider acceptance of pedophilia.

He wrote that "the question of pedophilia ... did not become acute until the second half of the 1980s" and arose because of "the absence of God." 

"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," he wrote. 

"Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ’68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate," he added later.

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Benedict, who will turn 92 next week, further claimed that concurrent with the sexual revolution, Catholic theology saw a “collapse that rendered the Church defenseless against these changes in society.”

In the essay, he blames the Second Vatican Council, which introduced various reforms to Catholic theology, for a “far-reaching breakdown” of traditional priesthood culture and claims it led to the establishment of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries.

“It could be said that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely, and a new normalcy arose that has by now been the subject of laborious attempts at disruption,” he wrote.

He also wrote about how the sexual revolution of the 1960s affected the Church, writing that "in various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries."

Benedict served as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office from 1982 to 2005, during which time the first major revelations of clerical abuse were reported by The Boston Globe in the early 2000s.

Several theologians blasted Benedict’s comments after they were published Wednesday.

Brian Flanagan, a professor of theology at Virginia’s Marymount University, called the essay “embarrassing” on Twitter.

“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,” he wrote.

In December, Australian Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’s former finance minister, became the most senior member of the clergy to be convicted on child sexual abuse charges when he was found guilty of sexually assaulting two 13-year-olds.

The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.