Benedict’s Intervention

In a remarkable turn of events, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – former cardinal Josef Ratzinger – has just released a reflection on the current sex-abuse crisis in the Church, indeed in the world. The 6000 word article – originally destined for publication in a journal for Bavarian priests – analyses the source of the widespread misunderstanding and misuse of sexuality, the deformation of that great gift of God – corruptio optimi pessima – which has now as the worm turns so corrupted our world: The causes are many: the Nietzschean ‘death of God’, the unhinging of our moral life from any objective criteria, the hedonistic sexual revolution of the sixties, the loss of Faith and a sense of the eternal, and a reduction of the Church to a pragmatic entity that we might shape at will.

Homosexuality, pornography, paedophilia are manifestations – of various degrees of gravity – of the self-centred dissociation of sex from its original and immutable purpose, for unity and procreation within a faithful and fruitful marriage.

As Carl Olson puts it, Benedict’s piece is both insightful, but also incomplete (as any such brief analysis must be). But it is telling that the former Pope felt in his conscience – after revealing his intent to Pope Francis – that he had to speak out in some way, that perhaps the recent response of the Vatican was not quite enough, or needed clarification. There are deeper issues at play, powers and principalities, as Benedict alludes, the Devil prowling around seeking to devour souls. This is not an earthly battle, but a heavenly, even apocalyptic, one, and, we as Catholics must stand firm and united.

As the former Pope puts it toward the end:

One of the great and essential tasks of our evangelization is, as far as we can, to establish habitats of Faith and, above all, to find and recognize them

An exhortation that goes back to his 1985 interview in The Ratzinger Report, upon which Carl Sundell has so providentially just written, wherein the then-Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith predicted that the Church in the future would be smaller, more scattered – persecuted, perhaps – but stronger for all of that, like sparks shining amongst the ruins and stubble of a post-Christian dystopia.

So keep the Faith, dear reader, along with hope and charity, which is keeping everything together, as the form of this world passes away.