Letter from Rome

This time Benedict XVI oversteps the line
Letter from Rome

A file image of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St. Peter's basilica before the opening of the "Holy Door" by Pope Francis to mark the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on Dec. 8, 2015 in the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

A number of important events and initiatives have taken place in the Vatican over the past week.

They included the latest round of meetings that Pope Francis held with his Council of Cardinals and their decision to send a draft document on the reform of the Roman Curia to bishops and theologians around the world for review and further suggestions.

There was also a high-level meeting on human trafficking, which the pope addressed and once again called this form of modern slavery a "crime against humanity."

Then there was Francis' important address, and dramatic gesture, before the leaders and rebel opposition of South Sudan. They were in Rome for an unprecedented two-day retreat sponsored by the pope and the archbishop of Canterbury as an effort to solidify peace in the war-torn, and largely Christian, African nation.

But these events were all overshadowed by the publication of a long and troubling letter by Benedict XVI.

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In it the former pope offered his views on sexual abuse in the Church, basically blaming it on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the collapse of moral theology and reverence for God (and the Eucharist) following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), as well as the rampant presence of homosexuality in seminaries in the early years following the council.

Written originally for publication on April 11 in a small church paper in Bavaria, a carefully crafted English translation was already posted online in the early hours of April 10 by conservative Catholic websites that have been highly critical of Pope Francis.

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