Clerical abuse victims around the world have reacted in fury to Pope Benedict’s claim yesterday that as recently as the 1970s pedophilia wasn’t considered an “absolute evil”.
During his traditional Christmas address last Monday to cardinals and other religious officials in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also said that child pornography was considered “normal” by society.
“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children," the Pope said. "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.”
He added that clerical abuse allegations in the past year reached "an unimaginable dimension" which has required the Catholic church to accept the “humiliation”.
In response to his address, the German Pontiff called on senior clerics “to repair as much as possible the injustices that occurred"
"We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light," he said, citing the growth of child pornography "that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society," he said.
Among those outraged by the Pope’s remarks was Dublin Abuse victim, Andrew Madden.
"That is not normal. I don't know what company the Pope has been keeping for the past 50 years," he told the Irish Independent.
American abuse activist Barbara Blaine, the head of he Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said that Catholics should be embarrassed to hear the Pope speak about these issues in such a manner.
She said: "It is fundamentally disturbing to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal.
"The Pope insists on talking about a vague 'broader context' he can't control, while ignoring the clear 'broader context' he can influence -- the long-standing and unhealthy culture of a rigid, secretive, all-male church hierarchy fixated on self-preservation at all costs. This is the 'context' that matters,” she added.