In the midst of apologizing for abuses of children by Catholic priests, Pope Benedict XVI used his public comments to blame liberal secularism for threatening the Church and society. The Pope appears to be joining former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders (here and here) campaigning against the scourge of seclurism — even as he apologizes for the widespread abuses of his church. It is astonishing to watch the expanding campaign against secularists, a rather unlikely group for villification. It appears that the scandal of pedophilic priests is only a distraction from the real threat to society — people who want society guided by civic rather than religious principles.
The Pope warned the Irish that “prosperity has undoubtedly brought material comfort to many, but in its wake secularism has also begun to encroach and leave its mark.”
He cautioned that the Church is still needed to show people how to live their lives because without it “relativism takes its place: instead of being governed by principles, political choices are determined more and more by public opinion, values are overshadowed by procedures and targets, and indeed the very categories of good and evil, and right and wrong, give way to the pragmatic calculation of advantage and disadvantage.”
The letter itself, while not conceding guilt, is remarkable in its denouncing of Irish bishops entangled in the scandal. The Pope decried the “sinful and criminal acts and the way the church authorities in Ireland dealt with them”.
The letter also states that an apostolic visitation (or Papal investigation), will be carried out at a “certain diocese” in Ireland, as well as in seminaries and religious congregations.
He did, however, state “I recognise how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice.” This is a bit curious since these bishops clearly had enough evidence to call the police — like any other organization or institution.
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