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Current Pope Francis I and Emeritus Pope Benedict pray together in the Vatican. Both have recently released letters defending Catholicism and the Church Photo by: AP

Former Pope denies cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

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Current Pope Francis I and Emeritus Pope Benedict pray together in the Vatican. Both have recently released letters defending Catholicism and the Church Photo by: AP

The former Pope Benedict has broken his seven months of silence with a letter denying the cover up of sexual abuse scandals and defending Christianity to atheists.

In an 11-page letter Benedict said “As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things.”

On Feb. 28 2013 Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pontiff in nearly 600 years to step down from the position as the head of the Catholic Church. Having said at the time he would continue to serve the church “through a life dedicated to prayer” he has now broken that silence to defend the Vatican and his actions while in power.

Benedict’s letter was published in the Italian broadsheet newspaper La Repubblica. It is the first correspondence from the Emeritus Pope published since his resignation and comes just a week after Pope Francis published a similar note.

There has been some speculation in the media as to whether this is part of a campaign devised by the former Pope and Pope Francis I but the Vatican insists this is just a coincidence.

The Emeritus Pope’s letter was directed to the atheist author Piergiorgio Odifreddi who penned the book “Dear Pope, I'm Writing to You”, which was published in 2011. His book was a reaction to Benedict's own book “Introduction to Christianity”.

In his book Odifreddi had posed questions to Pope Benedict about Catholicism and the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the Church.

Benedict’s letter reads “That the power of evil seeps all the way into the inner world of the faith is a source of suffering for us." Not only must the church bear the burden of this evil, but it also must "do everything possible so that such cases never repeat themselves”, the Catholic New Service reports.

It continues “That the power of evil seeps all the way into the inner world of the faith is a source of suffering for us." Not only must the church bear the burden of this evil, but it also must "do everything possible so that such cases never repeat themselves.

While there "is no reason to find solace in the fact that, according to research by sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is no higher than those present in other similar professional fields," neither should people "ostensibly present this deviation as if it were filth pertaining only to Catholicism”.

Reacting to the Emeritus Pope’s letter survivor groups have rejected his claims and insist that Benedict did not do enough to stop the abuse of children by priests, while he was head of the Catholic Church as Pope and as head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said “In the Church's entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict.

"As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover up," the SNAP statement said.

These survivor groups says there is still much unknown about how the Catholic Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who helped to cover their actions to be held responsible.

The letter went on to question Odifreddi decision to choose mathematics over religion, as an atheist. The Emeritus Pope was he was curious why a man who considers religious nothing but “science fiction” would consider so “worthy of such a detailed discussion”.

He continued by saying that the two men share the same belief in a First Cause to the universe, only Odifreddi replaces God with "Nature" as the origin.

The Pope asked “But the question remains, who or what is this nature.” He added that Odifreddi’s belief system lacks freedom and does not consider three major human realities: "freedom, love and evil."

The pope ended his letter admitting he may have been harsh in some of his criticisms, but that "frankness is part of dialogue."

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