1. The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse.

By Pope Emeritus Benedict, National Catholic Register, April 10, 2019

On February 21 to 24, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences gathered at the Vatican to discuss the current crisis of the faith and of the Church; a crisis experienced throughout the world after shocking revelations of clerical abuse perpetrated against minors.

The extent and gravity of the reported incidents has deeply distressed priests as well as laity, and has caused more than a few to call into question the very Faith of the Church. It was necessary to send out a strong message, and seek out a new beginning, so to make the Church again truly credible as a light among peoples and as a force in service against the powers of destruction.

Since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis, and during the run-up to it, I had to ask myself – even though, as emeritus, I am no longer directly responsible – what I could contribute to a new beginning.

Thus, after the meeting of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences was announced, I compiled some notes by which I might contribute one or two remarks to assist in this difficult hour. 

My work is divided into three parts.

In the first part, I aim to present briefly the wider social context of the question, without which the problem cannot be understood. I try to show that in the 1960s an egregious event occurred, on a scale unprecedented in history. 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.

In the second part, I aim to point out the effects of this situation on the formation of priests and on the lives of priests.

Finally, in the third part, I would like to develop some perspectives for a proper response on the part of the Church.


2. Pope calls Nicaraguan bishop to Rome, Invitation to Ortega critic follows revelation of alleged plot against him.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, April 11, 2019, Pg. A10

Pope Francis has asked one of Nicaragua’s most outspoken bishops to come to Rome for an undetermined period, church officials said Wednesday.

Silvio Báez, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, the nation’s capital, has been a vocal critic of President Daniel Ortega and his government’s crackdown on protesters over the past year. Báez said having to leave Nicaragua fills him with “sadness and pain.” 


3. Governor gets bill that restricts abortion.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, April 11, 2019, Pg. A2

A bill banning abortions in Ohio once a fetal heartbeat is detected is headed to Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who has said he plans to sign it. Opponents vow to sue. 

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even find out they’re pregnant. 


4. Ex-priest convicted of abuse in federal trial.

By Associated Press, The Washington Post, April 11, 2019, Pg. A2

A U.S. jury found a former Roman Catholic priest who was captured in Morocco guilty Wednesday of sexually abusing a boy at a veterans’ cemetery and Air Force base in New Mexico.

The jury reached the verdict against Arthur Perrault, 81, following a trial in Santa Fe in which several men testified that they had been abused by him as children. 


5. Restoring Marble Stairs Pilgrims Climbed on Knees.

By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times, April 11, 2019, Pg. A6

Roman Catholic tradition holds that these are the marble stairs that Jesus climbed at his judgment before the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. The stairs are said to have been brought to Rome in A.D. 326 from Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine and collector of all things Jesus. 

It quickly became an attraction for pilgrims, who still make their way up the staircase — housed in a sanctuary across from the Basilica of St. John Lateran — on their knees, as an act of penance as they meditate on the passion of Christ.

The restoration of the stairs was supposed to last four years, but it took six, and an initial budget of 2 million euros, or about $2.25 million, went over budget by about 30 percent. The Vatican restorers were meticulous, even touching up centuries of graffiti on the frescoed walls.


6. Three more states move anti-abortion bills ahead.

By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times, April 11, 2019, Pg. A6

Anti-abortion bills are moving forward in state legislatures in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio, revealing more fallout from legislation passed earlier this year in New York that may have loosened abortion prohibitions in the Empire State but energized social conservatives in middle America.

On Wednesday, a North Carolina Senate committee voted for establishing two felonies for doctors who fail to provide emergency care for a child born alive during an abortion. A day earlier, the Texas Senate approved imprisoning medical practitioners for up to 10 years if they don’t treat infants who survive abortions.


7. Sexual Revolution of 1960s Led to Church Abuse Crisis, Ex-Pope Says.

By Reuters, April 11, 2019

Former Pope Benedict has blamed the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal on the effects of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and a general collapse in morality.

Critics accused him of trying to shift blame away from the Church.

In a rare essay, Benedict, who for 23 years headed the Vatican doctrinal office that has been widely criticized for its handling of sexual abuse cases, argues that the sexual revolution led some to believe that paedophilia and pornography were acceptable

8. Abortion Ban Overturned in South Korea After 66 Years, Under present laws, which a court has ordered be revised, South Korean women can be imprisoned for up to a year for terminating pregnancy.

By Eun-Young Jeong, Wall Street Journal Online, April 11, 2019, 6:03 AM

South Korea’s Constitutional Court moved to overturn the country’s 66-year-old ban on abortion and ruled that the law excessively infringed on women’s rights, a landmark decision in a nation known for conservative attitudes toward women.


9. Benedict blames scandals on ’68, says Church law can’t just protect accused.

By Crux Staff, Crux, April 11, 2019

In one of his most extended public statements since his resignation more than six years ago, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has ascribed the clerical sexual abuse scandals to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and a post-Vatican II “collapse” in Catholic moral theology.

Most basically, Benedict argues that the scandals reflect a decline in faith in a personal God.

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God,” he wrote. “We Christians and priests also prefer not to talk about God, because this speech does not seem to be practical.”

Reflecting on early struggles in the Vatican to cope with the abuse scandals, Benedict said one problem was an exaggerated “guarantorism” in Church law that put such an emphasis on the due process rights of accused parties that “convictions were hardly possible.”

It was only with time, he said, that imposing permanent penalties on abuser clergy became accepted, recognizing “it is not only the right of the accused that is important and requires a guarantee. Great goods such as the faith are equally important.”

The emeritus pope’s comments come in a 6,000-word essay written for Klerusblatt, a monthly magazine for clergy distributed mostly in his native Bavaria region of Germany.

He said he was motivated to write by the Feb. 21-24 summit convened by Pope Francis on the abuse scandals for the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world, and that he sought the permission of both Francis and Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, before going public with his thoughts on “what I could contribute to a new beginning.”


10. Leader of US bishops set for Rome trip to talk bishops’ accountability.

By Christopher White, Crux, April 11, 2019

Archbishop José Gómez, the de facto head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as the body’s president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, faces health issues, will travel to Rome the week after Easter to meet Vatican officials to discuss new measures for U.S. bishop accountability.

Crux has confirmed with multiple sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to comment on the matter, that a USCCB delegation, originally intended to be led by DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, will discuss proposals for accountability that the U.S. bishops hope to adopt when they meet again in June.

Monsignor Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the USCCB, along with other senior officials, will join Gómez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, for the visit.


11. Former Pope Benedict blames church’s scandals partly on the ‘60s.

By Sohrab Ahmari, New York Post, April 10, 2019, 5:57 PM, Opinion

When Pope Benedict XVI resigned the papacy in 2013, he vowed to live the rest of his days in seclusion, to serve the Catholic Church “through a life dedicated to prayer.” But the church’s spiraling abuse crisis prompted him this week to ­return to the limelight.

The retired pontiff has drafted a 6,000-word document in his native German and aims to publish it in a monthly periodical for clergy in his home region of Bavaria. Benedict says the document, an English translation of which I’ve reviewed, is meant to assist the Church in seeking “a new beginning” and making her “again truly credible as a light among peoples and as a force in service against the powers of ­destruction.”

So what is to be done now? Benedict recommends reforming church law, to give as much emphasis to protecting the faithful, not least the faith of ordinary Catholics, as to safeguarding the procedural rights of accused priests. But no amount of procedural reform, the pope notes, can substitute for the recovering Catholicism’s absolute moral standards. “Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” he asks. “Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God.”

Yet he ends on an optimistic note: “Yes, there is sin in the church and evil. But even today there is the holy church, which is indestructible.” Amen.

Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor.