Pope Blames the ’70s for Pedophile Priests, Says Wasn’t ‘Evil’

December 31, 2010

(ChattahBox World News)—Somehow with all that was going on politically in the waning days of the lame-duck Congress leading up to the Christmas holiday, I missed the story of the Pope finding yet another scapegoat for the decades-long cover up of the clerical sexual abuse of children. What is it this time? Apparently, the freewheeling and sexually liberating 1970s. During a Christmas address to bishops and cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI blamed the ’70s for creating the “ideological foundation” for pedophilia. In Pope Benedict’s view, the sexual abuse of children by priests in the ’70s was the norm. And he further reasoned that the 70s version of pedophilia was not “evil in itself.” I don’t know what kind of ’70s experience the Pope had, but in the real world the rape and sexual abuse of children by adults was never accepted as normal. And there is no greater evil than a religious institution claiming moral superiority, that for years covered up the rape of innocent children by male priests.

Pope Benedict made his remarks during his Dec. 20 address to the Roman Curia. He said that the Catholic Church must perform “penance” for the years of clerical sexual abuse, adding the Church must “make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.”

But from there, Pope Benedict strayed into a misguided and shameful rationalization for the clerical abuse cover-up. He seemed to attribute the behavior of pedophile priests to what he says is acceptance of child pornography in today’s society.

“We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society.”

Victims of clerical abuse reacted with outrage to the Pope’s remarks, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

“But outraged Dublin victim Andrew Madden last night insisted that child abuse was not considered normal in the company he kept.”

“Mr Madden accused the Pope of not knowing that child pornography was the viewing of images of children being sexually abused, and should be named as such.”

“He said: “That is not normal. I don’t know what company the Pope has been keeping for the past 50 years.”’

The Pope and his spokesmen have previously blamed the clerical abuse scandal on “the secularization of modern society,” “petty gossip,” the “Devil” inside the Vatican and even compared criticism of the Church for covering up the sexual abuse to the “most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

Now, Pope Benedict is blaming the ’70s for the Vatican’s cover-up of pedophile priests raping and abusing children for years.

“In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself.”

“There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.”

Barbara Blaine, President and Founder of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released a statement calling the Pope’s remarks “fundamentally disturbing.”

“While some church officials have blamed the 1960s for the church’s sex abuse and cover up catastrophe, the Pope is now blaming the 1970s,” said Blaine.

Blaine added, “Catholics should be embarrassed to see their Pope talk again and again about abuse while doing little or nothing to stop it and to mischaracterize this heinous crisis.”

“It is fundamentally disturbing to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal. It’s unseemly to see a powerful religious figure childishly blaming nameless forces and time periods for a church-created crisis,” Blaine said.

Instead of the ’70s, or the devil or the “petty gossip” of the media, Blaine identifies the true “ideological foundations” of the clerical abuse crisis— “the long-standing and unhealthy culture of a rigid, secretive, all-male church hierarchy fixated on self-preservation at all costs.”

The full text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas address can be found here.

Photo Source: Wikimedia/Torvindus Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution.

H/T Crooks and Liars


5 Responses to “Pope Blames the ’70s for Pedophile Priests, Says Wasn’t ‘Evil’”

  1. JOB on January 1st, 2011 3:26 pm

    I get the distinct impression that who ever wrote this article cannot read.

    “And he further reasoned that the 70s version of pedophilia was not “evil in itself.” ” Do you want to give the impression that the Pope condones the 70″ view of boy-child “love”? First, he is not for a minute conding it; and second, I am afraid he is right. This sick philosophy had its famous adherents already before the 70’s. Even in the psychology profession. And it is without a doubt true that some clerics and people outside the Catholic church (mis)used these views to try to rationalise their sick crimes, if only for themselves.

    Thank God that era’s influence is waning fast.

  2. Uma Kura on January 1st, 2011 5:19 pm

    I’m amazed that more people are not outraged by the Pope’s comments and horrible thinking. For someone who heads a church that is supposedly not swayed by whims of popular culture, they dropped the ball here. And as someone who was a teen in the 70s, I know for a fact any sort of sexual behavior between adults and children was completely frowned upon. The church leaders are corrupt and I don’t know how we can fix it.

  3. majii on January 1st, 2011 6:19 pm

    I was a very aware and well-informed college student in the 1970s, and at no time to my knowledge was pedophilia “accepted as normal.” I taught high school for 33 years until I retired in 2009, and I recall that child abuse and pedophilia were always issues that we, as teachers, were instructed to be on the alert for. If some of my kids were being physically or sexually abused, I wouldn’t hesitate to report it, so I’m not buying the idea that other priests didn’t know that kids were being abused by their peers. What is shameful is that they and the Pope knew about it, covered it up, relocated the guilty parties, and hoped it would all go away. Furthermore, why reassign a priest and/or pay an accuser if the behavior was considered to be “not that offensive?” The Pope is grasping at straws here, imo.

    Christianity teaches that we must confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, and the fact that Pope Benedict XVI wants to place the blame for priests molesting kids on the 1970s social climate is beyond the pale. The question I have for him would be, “Even if pedophilia was more “acceptable” in the 1970s, what does this say about the RCC’s screening of applicants for the priesthood?”

    But, JOB, does saying that the 70s version of pedophilia was not “evil in itself” justify the damage that these priests did to these kids? The writer never stated that Pope Benedict XVI condoned the behavior, but she did point out that he is trying to justify/explain it away by blaming it on the social climate of the 1970s. I was a college student in the early 1970s, and due to my parents I was about as straight-laced as they come when it came to matters related to sex, and there were many more like myself. Not everyone who lived through the 1970s threw their morals away and accepted the idea that anything goes. The Pope knows this, too.

  4. Tim on January 3rd, 2011 2:41 am

    How did the author extrapolate this:

    “And he further reasoned that the 70s version of pedophilia was not ‘evil in itself.’”

    from this statement made by His Holiness:

    “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental PERVERSION of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself.”

    The author somehow concluded the Roman Pontiff subscribes to an idea he is plainly condemning. This is what we call shoddy journalism as a consequence of having an infantile reading comprehension.

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