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EWTN’s ‘Papal Posse’ plus Cdl. Muller discuss Benedict’s abuse crisis letter

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Last night, EWTN The World Over host Raymond Arroyo and his guests examined Pope Emeritus Benedict’s letter on sex abuse in the Church wherein he attempts to come to grips with the social and theological underpinnings of the crisis.

Arroyo dedicated three quarters of his hour-long show to what he called the “astounding new document” of Pope Benedict.

The host spoke in the EWTN studio with frequent guests Fr. Gerald Murray and Robert Royal, who together form EWTN’s “Papal Posse,” and by satellite with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, a former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Both the host and his guests spoke favourably of the Pope Emeritus, his letter, and his record on addressing clerical sexual misconduct. Early in the show, Arroyo showed a clip of an interview he had conducted with the then-cardinal Ratzinger twenty years before about the  abuse crisis. Then, as now, Ratzinger identified a lack of faith in God within the Church and the rejection of traditional Catholic moral teachings on the part of postwar theologians as responsible for the sexual crimes.

The importance of moral absolutes was one of the central themes discussed in the 46-minute segment. Arroyo and his guests addressed the collapse of sexual morality in the 1960s and its effect on people in the Church.

“It only makes sense,” said Robert Royal. “If the public perception of sexual morality becomes lax in some ways ― as Benedict said, it almost disappears, it’s only a matter of consent between two people ― is that not going to affect people inside the Church as well...? Of course it does.”

Defending Benedict’s new letter from “progressives” who say its ideas aren’t borne out by the John Jay Report, Arroyo put a chart from the Report onscreen. It showed that the number of accusations began to rise in the 1960s and reached a peak in the 1980s, after they went into a sharp decline.

After Arroyo condemned the scandal of the Church reflecting the values of the world, Robert Royal tackled the subject of what the Church is and what God is calling her to do.

“The willingness to die for the essential truths of the faith is the crux of what the Church is,” he said.

“And so if truth drops out of that equation, and the Church is just sort of there as a facilitator for what makes people feel good at a given moment, then we’ve lost the root of what our faith is about: that God communicated to us a certain understanding of who He is, and who we are, and how He expects us to live,” he continued. “And at that point, Christianity has nothing left to offer the world, and the Church itself is in jeopardy.”

Reflecting on the new permissive attitude of some bishops toward homosexuality, Fr. Murray condemned homosexual acts in blunt terms.

“A relationship based on sodomy is intrinsically evil,” Murray said. “You don’t sodomize someone and do a good act. That’s an immoral act.”

“Anything that leads to it has to be forbidden and resisted. Why? Because you love those persons, and you don’t want them to offend God or do damage to their own souls.”

Murray said bishops in Germany who want to bless homosexual unions are “wrong” because there is “no good in blessing a relationship based on intrinsically immoral actions.”

Another issue Benedict brought up in his letter is the threat to the faith of pious Catholics both by the inadequate response to the abuse crisis and by the “intellectual arrogance of those who think they are so clever.” In addressing the rights of the accused priests, the pope emeritus asserted that the faith of the “little ones” — ”the common faithful” — also had value.

This reminded Murray of EWTN’s founder, Mother Angelica, who said “the faith isn’t that hard.”

“Religion is not about theologians inventing systems largely based on relativism, on Enlightenment thinking ― nothing to do with the Bible,” Murray said. 

In his own remarks, Cardinal Müller addressed the inadequate response of Vatican-ordered “visitations” to cope with homosexuality in the seminaries, saying there had been too much compromise, along with the deficiencies of bishops after the Second Vatican Council. Like Benedict, Müller resisted the idea that the Council itself had been at fault. The problem, he said, was that in wishing to be more pastoral, some bishops neglected their teaching office and did not transmit doctrine.

Arroyo and the Papal Posse also discussed the relationship between lack of reverence for the Eucharist and lack of reverence for the dignity of the human person.

At the end of the segment, they seemed to agree that the central message of Benedict’s letter is that both the Church and the world must return to God. They concluded also that there is a need for the renewal of moral theology.

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