Friday, April 18, 2008

Benedict XVI on the social dimension of the sexual abuse scandals

I'm proud of Pope Benedict. He has forthrightly talked about the sexual abuse scandals, saying that he is deeply ashamed. In his address to the US Bishops, he urges them to continue to do all they can to protect children. However, he goes on to stress the social context in which these abuses took place:
Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?

Putting the child at the center, and asking what is owed to the child, gives us an expanded sense of responsibility to the young. I've often thought it was a little tacky for the sex-saturated media to pile on the Catholic Church for harboring pedophiles, while the media pumps sexually explicit messages into the culture for the consumption of ever younger and more vulnerable persons. Here is Benedict:
We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task - not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response.

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