Maike Hickson

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Benedict didn’t request sex abuse letter be given to Abuse Summit participants, source claims

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April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A well-placed source in Rome has corrected the plausible theory that Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin refused Pope Emeritus Benedict’s request that his sex abuse letter be distributed to participants of the February Sex Abuse Summit. The source who is familiar with the matter told LifeSiteNews that Benedict, in fact, never made such a request. 

When Pope Benedict's letter had been published, there were circulating in the public several speculations, such as whether he really wrote this document and why he chose to publish it in a small Bavarian Catholic magazine Klerusblatt. Another question was whether Benedict decided to publish this letter because he did not see it was being included in the discussions of the February 21-24 Abuse Summit. 

The Italian Vatican specialist Sandro Magister in a April 17 article touched on this matter when he first pointed out that Benedict stated that he had written his text before the Abuse Summit and that his intention was to “assist in this difficult hour.” Magister commented, as follows: “From which one deduces that he wrote them in order to offer them, first of all, to the leaders of the Church gathered at the Vatican by Pope Francis to discuss the question.”

Magister then quotes a Corriere della Sera article which stated: “Benedict sent the eighteen-and-a-half pages on pedophilia ‘to the gracious attention’ of the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, before the global meeting of the episcopal conferences, to make them known also to Francis.” Commented Magister: “What happened however is that none of the participants at the summit received Ratzinger’s text. Francis thought it better to keep it to himself, locked away in a drawer.”

This method of silencing the thoughts of Benedict, if true, would be very troubling.

However, after LifeSiteNews reached out to a well-placed source in Rome, the response was: “No, this claim of Magister is not correct.”

Subsequently, LifeSiteNews reached out to the Holy See Press Office asking for comment, but did not receive any response. 

In response to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment, Sandro Magister said that Benedict’s timing of the letter, with it having been written before the Abuse Summit, and his handing it over to Cardinal Parolin, still leaves questions unanswered. 

“So it remains confirmed that Benedict handed over the ‘notes’ to Parolin and through him to the Pope, even if without explicitly asking for them to be distributed to the members of the summit,” he said. 

“I find it quite understandable that Benedict did not make this request explicitly (it is also his style),” he added. 

Magister said that the fact remains that Parolin and especially the Pope did not in any way make use of Benedict’s letter, as is evidenced by the outcome of the Summit, which blamed the sex abuse crisis on clericalism (abuse of power) and made no mention of homosexuality and homosexual networks within the priesthood. 

“The outcome was very far from Benedict's analysis,” said Magister. “They have completely ignored him. And I find that serious.”

It remains a question why Pope Francis would not have on his own initiative sent Benedict's letter of many insights to the participants of the Abuse Summit – of course after first asking Benedict himself for permission. Benedict letter points out many important aspects of a changed cultural and theological atmosphere – moral and doctrinal laxity in the Church, sexual hedonism in the larger society – all of which seem to have been conducive to the increase of clerical sex abuse from the 1960s on.

Pope Benedict, in his letter, speaks about the existence of “homosexual cliques” in some seminaries: “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” 

This is a topic that LifeSiteNews and other groups tried to bring to the attention of the Sex Abuse Summit, also with the help of a petition asking the Church's leadership to “Stop homosexual networks in the Church.” 

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.