Benedict XVI in FatimaPope Benedict XVI has come one tiny step closer to contrition over the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, and asked for forgiveness, as the New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):

Addressing the sexual abuse crisis from the seat of the Roman Catholic Church before thousands of white-robed priests, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday begged forgiveness, saying the church would do “everything possible” to prevent priests from abusing children. …

The pope did not outline specific actions that the church would take to combat abuse, as many had hoped — and as Benedict had pledged at an audience in April. Nor did his remarks go much beyond what he had already said in a letter to Irish Catholics in March and in a private meeting with victims of sexual abuse on Malta in April.

But it was the first time that Benedict had asked forgiveness for the crisis from St. Peter’s Square, the heart of the church itself, and on an occasion focused on priests.

Even so, the Pope could not help but try to evade responsibility for everything that happened:

The pope said the Devil was behind the scandal, saying it had emerged now, in the middle of the Vatican’s Year of the Priest, because “the enemy,” or the Devil, wants to see “God driven out of the world.”

“And so it happened that in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones,” the pope added.

So you see, once again, the Vatican’s thinking implicit behind everything that’s happened … this is not really a failing of the Church and by the Church. It is, instead, an external affliction, imposed on the Church from outside it, by the Devil; in other words, it’s part of an ongoing spiritual struggle between the godly Church and the Forces of Darkness, and it’s the clergy who are its real victims (having popped up during the Year of the Priest). The “little ones” or children who were abused, are merely incidental players in this drama, in the Vatican’s eyes.

So while I can say the Pope has become more contrite about this scandal than he has been in the past, by not accepting full responsibility for it, I cannot really say is truly 100% contrite yet.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

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