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Retired Pope Blames The 1960s Sexual Revolution For Catholic Sex Abuse

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has published a letter in which he describes the sexual revolution of the 1960s and how it may account for the abuses perpetrated by members of the Catholic clergy.

Pope Benedict XVI penned a letter for the German periodical, Klerusblatt, in which he discusses the sexual revolution and reflects on the child sex abuse that has severely compromised the reputation of the Catholic Church in recent years.

The retired pope wrote, that among "the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms."

"Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of '68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate," he said.

He continues that the legal proceedings related to sexual abuses committed by members of the Catholic Church have thus far failed to protect "the Faith as a legal good".

The letter asserts that, in principle, the Congregation of the Clergy is responsible for dealing with crimes committed by priests.

His comments come less than two months after Pope Francis convened an unprecedented summit to address the widespread issue of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and stated that the Church would be implementing "concrete and effective measures" to stop the abuses.

Pope Benedict XVI also states that the problem of pedophilia in the Church "did not become acute until the second half of the 1980s". However, some accusations of child sex abuse emerged decades before the 1960s.

Rumours of child sexual abuse have dogged the Church for even longer, with a pamphlet distributed by Martin Luther in 1531 accusing Pope Leo X of protecting the clergy's right to keep children for sexual servitude, according to historian Derek Wilson.

Martin Luther. Photo: Getty

The essay has drawn wide criticism -- professor of social ethics from Santa Clara University's Jesuit School of Theology, Julie Hanlon Rubio Tweeted that the essay was "deeply flawed".

Rubio said in a Tweet that the emeritus Pope's "willingness to blame a permissive culture and progressive theology for a problem that is internal and structural is stunning".

Brian Flanagan, associate professor of Theology at Marymount University, Tweeted that the letter was "deeply embarrassing".

The letter has drawn strong criticism for its failure to address the cover-ups enacted by members of the clergy to protect abusers.

In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI adamantly denied any role in covering up sex abuses committed by priests in a letter published in La Repubblica newspaper.

Pope Benedict XVI retired from leadership of the Church in early 2013, citing physical and mental deterioration as his reason for leaving. The decision was shocking for the Catholic community as he was the first Pope to make this decision in approximately 600 years.