28 August 2019, The Tablet

Pope Emeritus rebuts critics

Benedict XVI: 'Western society is a society in which God is publicly absent.'

Pope Emeritus rebuts critics

Pope Benedict XVI walks down steps after giving a talk at the conclusion of a Mass for the Knights of Malta in St. Peter's in 2013
CNS/Paul Haring

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has replied to the critics of his essay on “The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse” published in the Klerusblatt, a German monthly for clergy in April this year.

In the essay, he said that the godlessness in society and a general estrangement from the faith that had set in in the late 1960s had led Catholics to renounce Catholic sexual morality. He suggested these were the reasons that clerical sexual abuse occurred. 

His brief reply to his critics was published in the September issue of the prestigious German theological monthly Herder Korrespondenz.

Entitled “68 and the Abuse”, the Pope Emeritus deplores the “typical inadequacy” of his critics’ reaction to his essay and recalls that in his essay he put the main focus on God. 

“I wrote, ‘A world without God can only be a world without meaning … Western society is a society in which God is publicly absent and in which He has nothing more to say to society. And that is why it is a society in which the measure of what is human is becoming increasingly lost’.

“As far as I can see, in most of the reactions [to the essay] God fails to appear at all and so the crux of what I wished to discuss is not discussed at all,” wrote Benedict. “The majority of the critical reactions I have seen prove the seriousness of the situation, namely that the word God has in many cases become marginal in theology.”

The reply is signed “Benedikt XVI”. 

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