The solution to the problem of clerical sex abuse lies in a spirit of penitence and conversion, rather than a radical change of church structures, said Pope Benedict. He made his comments yesterday during his weekly general audience at the Vatican's Paul VI hall.
The pope briefly left the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo to give his audience talk to about 7,000 pilgrims from all over the world, the Catholic News Service reported.
Using an indirect historical analogy, the Pope recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion", said an AFP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
St Hildegard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict said.
However, she "bitterly reproached demands to subvert the very nature of the church" and she urged the faithful, especially the clergy and monastic communities, to live holy and virtuous lives, said the Catholic News Service.
"This is a message we must never forget," he said.
Pope urges abuse repentance over change (Sydney Morning Herald/AFP)
Clergy abuse needs conversion, not radical change of church, pope says (Catholic News Service)