The Atlantic

Pope Benedict Says Blame the ’60s for Priests’ Abuse

Benedict, the pope emeritus, weighed in on the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis. What was once opaque becomes clearer, and even stranger.
Source: Tony Gentile / Reuters

VATICAN CITY—Popes are supposed to be infallible. They communicate through carefully worded speeches, apostolic letters, or encyclicals that are often the fruit of slow collaboration with doctrinal experts inside the Vatican. So what are we to make of the strange text that Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, unleashed on the world this week, in which he effectively blamed the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on the freewheeling sexual revolution of 1968?

Before we get into —which is informal, not Church doctrine—let us pause for a moment to consider the utter weirdness of the situation. In 2013, Benedict, who turns

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Malta’s Fledgling Movement for Abortion Rights
The country is the only one in Europe that outright bans abortion, but public perception is slowly shifting.
The Atlantic9 min read
What John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech Means 50 Years Later
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
The Atlantic7 min read
The Moment That Made Neil Armstrong’s Heart Rate Spike
Real-time data from the Apollo 11 astronauts, carefully monitored by mission control, capture the frenzied maneuvers that put men on the moon.