NEW YORK – In his remarkable apology to the Catholics of Ireland (most of that country’s population), Pope Benedict XVI explained why he thought sinful priests were tempted to commit sexual acts with children. It was because of “new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values.”
As we know, the abuse of children by Catholic priests did not just occur in Ireland, but in many other countries too, something the Pope preferred not to dwell upon. And Ireland is not the only place where social transformation and secularization have challenged religious values. When the Pope blamed the sexual transgressions on these challenges, he may have been at least partly right, but not for the reasons he believes.
In more traditional days, not so very long ago, when God reigned supreme and most people still turned to their priests (or ministers, rabbis, etc.) for moral guidance, sexual behavior was often dictated by power. Christians may have believed in sin. The values espoused by the Church were paid their due deference.