Pope: sex abuse scandal ‘humiliating’ but society must share the blame

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The Catholic Church must examine the failures in its teaching that allowed the “unimaginable” sexual abuse of children by priests to continue unchallenged for so long, the Pope said yesterday.

Pope Benedict XVI: Pope: Church must reflect on what is wrong with its message that allowed abuse scandal

Benedict has previously acknowledged that the scandal was the result of sin within the church and that the church as a result must repent for it and make amends with victims Photo: REUTERS

The Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)

By Tim Ross, Social Affairs Editor 4:30PM GMT 20 Dec 2010

The worldwide “humiliation” that the church has experienced as a result of the scandal must serve as a spur to reform, Benedict XVI told his cardinals gathered in Rome.

However, the pontiff argued that the abuse crisis must be seen in its social “context”, suggesting that part of the blame lay with permissive attitudes in western society dating from the 1970s.

Survivors of clerical sex abuse condemned the Pope’s statement as another attempt by Church authorities to evade responsibility for the scandal.

The Pope was speaking in his annual Christmas address to bishops and cardinals, assembled in the frescoed Sala Regia of the Vatican’s apostolic palace. It was seen as evidence of the seriousness with which the Pope views the issue that he chose tackling child sex abuse as the major theme for one of his highest profile set-piece speeches of the year.

While stressing that most priests were honourable, Pope Benedict said revelations of abuse in 2010 had reached “an unimaginable dimension” that required the church to accept the “humiliation” as a call for renewal.

“We know of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and our corresponding responsibility,” he said. “We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustices that occurred.

“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our message, in our entire way of configuring the Christian being, that allowed such a thing to occur.”

However, Benedict said the fault lay not only with the Church but also with the “context of our times”, in which child pornography, drug use, sexual trafficking were to some degree considered permissible.

“There exists a market of pornography regarding children that seems to be increasingly accepted as normal by society,” he said.

“The psychological devastation of children, in which human beings are reduced to a marketplace article, is a terrifying sign of the times.”

The underlying ideology of such excesses stemmed from the 1970s, when “paedophilia was theorized as something that was in keeping with man and even the child”, he said. “The effects of such theories are evident today.”

Representatives of abuse victims dismissed the Pope’s comments as “absolute nonsense”.

Margaret Kennedy, from the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group, said: “He is trying to say that the modern world is corrupt and sexually rampant. It is blaming society for what is actually their responsibility,” she said. “No-one in any age has ever thought that adults having sex with children is right.”

The scandal first came to public consciousness in the US in 2002, and spread across the world earlier this year, with thousands of victims emerging in Europe and beyond.

Details were disclosed of bishops who covered up for paedophile priests and Vatican officials who turned a blind eye to the crimes for decades.

Benedict himself faced questions over his handling of the crisis, in his former roles as archbishop in Munich and as head of the Vatican office that was responsible for dealing with abuse cases.


Pope calls on Church to learn from abuse scandal

The Pope told cardinals and bishops that the church must avoid ordaining abusers


20 December 2010

Pope Benedict has called for the Catholic Church to reflect on what allowed the sexual abuse of children by priests to happen.

The number of sexual abuse cases had reached “an unimaginable dimension” in 2010, the Pope said.

He also spoke of the “shame” the abuse crisis had caused the Church.

The abuse scandal, which first surfaced in the US in 2002, erupted globally this year with a raft of allegations across Europe and beyond.

“We have to ask ourselves what was wrong in our preaching, in our entire way of configuring the Christian being, to allow something like that to happen,” Pope Benedict told cardinals and bishops gathered for his traditional Christmas audience in Rome.

“We have to take this humiliation as an exhortation for the truth and a call for renewal,” he added.

However, the Pope also said the fault lay not only with the Church but also in the “context of our times”.

“There exists a market of pornography regarding children that seems to be increasingly accepted as normal by society”, he said.

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says thousands of victims of paedophile priests have come forward and bishops have been accused of covering up cases, allowing paedophile priests to continue their ministry.

The Vatican has now introduced fast-track rules for defrocking priests found to have abused children, our correspondent says.



Pope: Church must reflect on what allowed abuse


20 December 2010

Pope Benedict XVI told Vatican officials Monday that they must reflect on the church’s culpability in its child sex-abuse scandal but he also blamed a secular society in which he said the mistreatment of children was frighteningly common.

In his traditional, end-of-the-year speech to Vatican cardinals and bishops, Benedict said revelations of abuse in 2010 reached “an unimaginable dimension” that required the church to accept the “humiliation” as a call for renewal. (AP)


Pope: Sex Abuse at a Level ‘We Could Not Have Imagined’

Pontiff issues mea culpa in annual speech


Posted Dec 20, 2010 1:00 PM CST

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

(Newser) – Pope Benedict issued a sobering Christmas speech today, admitting that sexual abuse in the church has reached “an unimaginable dimension,” and calling for major reflection. “We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible,” the pontiff proclaimed, according to the New York Times. “We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.”

But though Benedict called the scandal a “humiliation,” he did add that it had to be viewed in the context of a society in which pornography was considered normal and sexual tourism is increasingly common. “The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times,” he said.

19 Responses to Pope: sex abuse scandal ‘humiliating’ but society must share the blame

  1. Sylvia says:

    I don’t know – I just have trouble with the ‘everybody else was doing it’ excuse. I expect from children. I don’t expect it from the Holy Father. I don’t expect it from bishops. I don’t expect it from priests.

    And, when it comes to clerical sexul abuse, I absoutley do not accept it as an excuse.

    Since when was acceptable for clergy to reflect the decadence which might imbue any particular society? Clergy should be setting examples of chastity and purity, not reflecting those of a decadent society by engaging in and/or tolerating sexual perversion.

    Sad to say, I am less than impressed.

  2. Tim says:

    Sylvis, we all need to be reminded from time to time that members came from families. Surely we have all heard enough about children’s fomative years, if we are over 3o, to at least have been exposed to the idea that children learn from their families, from their peers, from their teachers, and , yes, from their clergy.
    Why are we so surprised when Johnnie ( you know, he came from such a GOOD family)goes to jail for a crime committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Did we think that coming from a good family would immunize him from Evil?
    We are ALL fallible, and sinners, and we sin every time we judge others.
    If it has been 60 or 100 years getting into this BLACK FOREST of sexual crimes against humanity, it is likely to be 60 or 100 years to get out of that BLACK FOREST !
    No matter the severity or laxity of the laws and their enforcement, the culture of sin has to change— and our attitudes towards sin. We can not pick and choose which sin we are going to condemn, and which ones we will just say TUT, TUT, bad boy or girl to. GOD is the JUDGE of ALL sin not human beings.
    We pray for soldiers who go to war, even though GOD said and says Thou shalt not kill!
    We salve our minds and souls by saying they killed people because they were just doing what the Government told them to do!
    We really at times are more camelion than tree toads ! Tim

  3. Larry Green says:

    “The pope said the fault lay not only with the Church but also in the context of our times.” These are clearly words demonstrating deep humility. Sounds like the “holy father” is very serious about his call for renewal.

    “There exists a market of pornography regarding children that seems to be increasingly accepted as normal by society”, the pope said. – The “holy father” is dazed and confused he is dreaming that the ” increasingly accepted as normal” attitude of the church belongs to the secular society. If this man was a leader of any democratic nation he would be laughed out of office at once. He is totally oblivious to what is going on around him let alone what’s going on in the real world.
    We have heard these empty words of commitment to “ renewal” from the pope , bishops , and clergy so often while at the same time they remain committed to their dirty deeds that it has come to sound like a sick joke. They hate to be judged and yet continue to increase insidiously the propagation of prejudice and disharmony. It is wrong, it is inexcusable and it is self destructive.

  4. Tim says:

    Larry, The very fact you slur The Holy Father by your ridicule , shows that you are not a true Roman Catholic. You may be under delusion that once you were Baptized into the Roman Catholic Church that you can not be put out. That is true, except that you must add- unless I put myself out!
    Word-smithing and cowardly innuendo are not the marks of a real man, but of a traitor. Tim

  5. Larry Green says:

    Tim get a grip on yourself. The pope is human being no different than you or I. He is not God and even with God I have not had any trouble expressing my anger toward when I felt it.
    You really have to pull yourself together Tim and stop thinking that you need to save the church and the pope and the clergy.Stand up and speak for yourself Tim , the pope is a big man , he will look after himself , he dosn,t need your help.

  6. Tim says:

    Obviously, Larry, you have problems respecting anyone, even yourself ! I will pray for you Soul, and your self-esteem. Tim

  7. Larry Green says:

    There is nothing more disgusting than a hypocrite.
    Your own words above “We are ALL fallible, and sinners, and we sin every time we judge others.”
    You say over and over that it is only up to God to judge.Are you trying in a subtle way to reveal your divinity to the people on this site ? You may be able to convince your kids to believe in Santa Clause but you will have a much more difficult task trying to convince me that you are God.
    As foolish as the pope sounds with his rhetoric he could sound even worse , with you hiding under his cloak as his mouth piece.
    I’m off to work. Some of us do have life!

  8. 1yellowknife says:

    I will be posting summaries of 3 Belgian developments, one of which has a blame-sharing message equal to that of the Pope. It is from his close associate, Aartsbisschop Leonard.

  9. 1yellowknife says:

    December 21, 18:08 Vandaag,be
    Note: Wikileaks disclosed American Catholic leaders believed Danneels would be next pope, not Ratzinger.

    The Brussels Court of Appeal, deemed the request of Cardinal Godfried Danneels to remove trial judge Wim De Troy from the investigation into the sexual abuse of minors in the Church: unfounded. (Note: Belgian parliamentary investigation)

    The cardinal thought Troy was biased because the lawyer representing nine of the 475 cleric abuse victims was allowed to see the victim files seized by the Commission Adriennssens. The prosecutor-general felt that the request by Danneels was inadmissible because he was not charged, he is only heard as a witness. As well, the Court declared the application unfounded and deemed judge Troy had the right to decide to whom he gives access of the investigation files.
    Source; Vandaag.be

  10. 1yellowknife says:

    Source: Vandaag.be
    Belgian Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard recently released a brief statement to the Belgian parliamentary committee Sexual Abuse. Remarkable was his plea for religious guidance to married couples “because most sexual abuse occurs in the family.”

  11. 1yellowknife says:

    December, 2010: Source Vandaag.be

    Note: There are 2 (Gode)Lieve Halsberghes active in cleric sexual abuse issues in Belgium. This former chair of the Halsberghe Commission (see below)is the aunt of Lieve Halsberghe the coordinator of SNAP Belgium.

    The Parliamentary Committee for Sexual Abuse in the Church just heard from Honorary Magistrate Godelieve Halsberghe. Between 2000 and 2009 she chaired the Church Committee which examined the records of sexual abuse in the Church. In 2009, it was followed by the Commission Adriaenssens.
    All complaints to the Commission Halsberghe were made by the victims, except one. It came from a priest accused of sexual abuse was improperly “and he was exonerated by our research.”

    Halsberghe said that “In 1962, the Church from Rome ordered that victims of sexual abuse to be silent on pain of excommunication.” She claimed that the Church regarded priests regarded people for whom the rules did not apply. “The vows of obedience, chastity and poverty would make a priest, un Homme d’Eglise, not financially or morally liable for the offenses he committed.’’ Halsberghe said: ‘’I did not agree: a priest just like everyone else remains responsible for what he does. If a victim loses a leg in a car accident, the offender must pay compensation. Why would not a priest who abused a thirteen year old? ”

    A letter from an employee of the diocese of Malines-Brussels revealed that the Church neither legally nor practically wanted to pay damages. Legally, the Church feared too many claims would arrive “.

    “In the end (just before the end of the operation of its Commission, ed), I was completely disregarded. They gave the order not to answer my letters. When a person anonymously phoned me with the message that my life was in danger I put all my files at the Belgian National Archives. And based on those files a review was started by an investigating magistrate in Brussels.” The parliamentary investigation now underway is a result thereof.

    Note: article has been abbreviated.

  12. Lina says:

    I am sad and not impressed by Pope Benedict’s words. Furthermore, I am ashamed what this Pope said.

    Folks like me have a right to state their opinions about the Pope and his entourage of (clergy) males. If that makes me not a true Roman Catholic. I will not lose sleep over it.

    People who do not like folks like me to speak up WOULD probably like to us burning at the stake like the Church did in the past to keep Catholic people in fear.

    Pope Benedict and my area bishop have enough on their plate (putting positive spins on these never ending scandals) than worrying about little old me from the Ottawa valley.


  13. Michael says:

    Post# 1, 7 & 12 Sylvia,Larry and Lina,
    We all have differents of opinions about anything and everything. It is better for everyone to respect another’s opinions and views. There may be some truth in what everyone says, but not the Absolute Truth. Lashing out and showing your anger towards others who do not agree to your opinions and views in not acceptable to anyone and gain nothing out of it.
    It also depends on how you interpret and look at the Pope’s words!Certainly the society is resposible for many crimes. People have a tendency to do eveil things when they have money power and opportunities. Look at what is happening in the western world. Free society with pronographic materials available in open markets, shops, strip clubs, massage parlours et, on line escorts etc. West has become like Sodom and Gomorah. Look at other countries , I mean the third world contries, eastern countries. They have restrictions. You will not find any of these there. Even if there are a few in tourist areas who goes there? It is people from our country.That does not mean the people there are holy ones. The law of the land restricts them from getting in to it and they are poor. I 100% agree to pope’s statement and he is the head of the catholic church and those who do not agree should not stick to the church and should go somewhere else.
    It is not like the Bush administration who killed thousads of innocents women and children in Iraq for oil, which all people around the world as well as most of the Americans believe to be tru.But many believe it is not for oil. So there are differents of opinions to everthing. It is good to respect others opinions and defend it politely.

  14. Michael says:

    correction: “differences of opinion”

  15. Lina says:

    Re: Post 13, Michael said to Sylvia,Larry and Lina,:

    “I 100% agree to pope’s statement and he is the head of the catholic church and those who do not agree should not stick to the church and should go somewhere else.”

    Speaking for myself. It is obvious by all your posts Mr. Michael you are a big fan of his Holiness no matter what. Good for you if you like everything the Pontiff does or says because he is the head of the Catholic Church.

    As for me leaving the Church…that may well happened one day when the time is right for me not according to your timetable Mr. Michael.

  16. michael says:

    Post#15 By Lina,
    People change political parties, break relationships, break up marriages, friendships, religions etc etc.Why? because they are either not happy with the relationships or ideologies of leaders, husbands or wives, friends etc.
    It is the same way with religions or its leaders. Not because I am a big fan of pope, but I believe in the catholic church and I know what the pope says is nothing but truth. Those who do not believe in it should quit immediately, and that might give them some happiness in life.Any way pope does not know who you are or I am sure he is not bothered at all about whatever you write on this web page.It might only just give you self satisfaction.

  17. Larry Green says:

    1 Yellowknife, The Catholic church is in a Quagmire driven ever deeper by it’s own deeds. It is from my ” subjective” perspective uncontrollably ( for whatever reason) impelled toward an end contradictory to the final cause natural to it‘s proper function . The recognition of this reality constitutes a source of anguish and despair but it “ recognition” can also at the same time constitute the seed for growth and a new beginning.

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