Pope Francis traveled to the residence of his predecessor, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, to wish him a happy 92nd birthday, which he celebrates tomorrow.
The Vatican released a statement Monday, along with a photo commemorating the meeting between the two leaders.
“This afternoon, at the beginning of Holy Week, Pope Francis went to Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to offer Benedict XVI his best wishes for Easter,” the communiqué reads.
“The visit also offered the Pope the opportunity to extend his birthday wishes, with particular affection, to the Pope emeritus who turns 92 tomorrow,” it said.
The meeting followed hard on the heels of a report by Benedict on the clerical sex abuse crisis, interpreted by some as being in dissonance with Francis’ take on the issue. Whereas Francis recently attributed clergy sex abuse to “clericalism,” or the abuse of power by the clergy, Benedict tied the crisis to the sexual revolution, the corruption of Catholic moral theology, and the spread of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries.
In his 6,000-word essay, Benedict looked to social forces outside Catholicism, as well as movements inside the Church, to explain “what went wrong” to create the crisis that appeared in 2002 and has reappeared in the present day.
In his text, Benedict said that the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s generated a change in mentality and behavior “on a scale unprecedented in history.”
A “new normalcy arose” in the 20 years between 1960 and 1980, Benedict said, where society’s moral standards regarding sexuality “collapsed entirely,” and whose effects we are still feeling.
The intentional destruction of sexual morals, including those regarding pedophilia, encouraged experimentation and led a generation to believe that sexual restraint was a sign of repression, he proposed.
During this period, “homosexual cliques” emerged among candidates for the priesthood, “which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries,” Benedict said, echoing a critique linking the growth of “homoclericalism” in the Church with the abuse crisis.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.