Diocesan News

Bishop DiMarzio Responds to Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Essay

By Emily Drooby

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio described the pope emeritus’ essay on the root causes of the clerical sex abuse crisis as a very good analysis. (Photo: Tablet File Photo)

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio spoke about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI after the retired pope published a major essay describing some of the root causes of the global sex abuse troubles facing the Church.

Media critics have tried to use Pope Emeritus Benedict’s words to set up a conflict between the retired pontiff and Pope Francis.

Bishop DiMarzio insists Pope Emeritus Benedict’s writing points to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and a post-Vatican II “collapse” in Catholic moral theology that is part of a larger picture.

Not Contradictory

“It’s very clear what he said, that this contributed to the problem,” said Bishop DiMarzio.

“This is why if you want to look for one of the reasons he did not say that was the whole problem, and unfortunately some of the media is contradicting or at least juxtaposing his position to that of Francis, and they really are not contradictory at all.”

Since his resignation in 2013, Pope Emeritus Benedict has rarely left his monastery. In his farewell address, he promised to stay “hidden” from the world.

Broke His Silence

The former Pope broke his silence on major Church affairs, with the essay. He made two crucial points about the origins of the Church’s problems in his essay.

First, “The matter begins with the state-prescribed and supported introduction of children and youths into the nature of sexuality….” and second, “Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that rendered the Church defenseless against these changes in society.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict did get Pope Francis’ permission before publishing the 11-page essay, which shows the deep respect both share for each other.

Bishop DiMarzio explained there is no argument between them. They are highlighting different parts of the issue. Pope Emeritus Benedict took his cue for the essay from the worldwide summit Pope Francis organized for the protection of minors.

Complicated Social Issue

“This is a complicated issue, a complicated social issue, a complicated issue in the Church,” said Bishop DiMarzio.

“You have to look at everything and think about everything. This is just a thoughtful piece from theology where, that’s his forte, that he’s trying to help us understand what happened in the past.”

Bishop DiMarzio was a consultant on the acclaimed John Jay College study that found the majority of clergy abusers, 70 percent, were ordained prior to the 1970s. He links that to what Pope Emeritus Benedict has written.

“Because he was concentrating on the moral teaching of the Church and society at the same time that very same point was brought out in the John Jay study because you had to see this in context,” the bishop added.

“The context was the time of the ‘60s and ‘70s when morality took a little bit of a dip in our country, and even the teaching of morality had some difficulties. They were not clear on certain areas.”

Bishop DiMarzio describes Benedict’s essay as a very good analysis.

“Again this is a controversial issue because it seems like there is a riff, but that is not the case. It is a thoughtful piece that adds to the understanding of the problem.”

Related: Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Full Letter: The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse

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