.- In an article published yesterday by LâOsservatore Romano, historian and member of the Institute of France, Alain BesanÃ§on, offered an analysis of the first five years of Benedict XVIâs pontificate. He noted that the media campaign against the Holy Father and the Church reveals a hatred for Christianity, and that the Pope is confronting the âself-destructionâ of society, nature and reason.
âBenedict XVI has fought untiringly for clarity and accuracy. For him there is nothing more dangerous than the relativism that is fused with modern democratic society: any organized group can legitimize an opinion merely because it is their opinion without the need to support it with reason,â BesanÃ§on said.
After praising the Holy Father for ârestoring intelligence to the heart of the Church,â the French historian referred to two âaccidents of this pontificate.â The first was the Popeâs discourse at Regensburg, Germany: âIt was very scholarly, moderate, benevolent, but it caused very violent reactions.â
âThe disproportionate reaction,â he explained, ârevealed above all the dramatic ignorance of the clergy and the faithful about the message of Islam, and undoubtedly about their own (faith), because you can understand one without the other. Thus there is an absolute need for re-directing Christian knowledge.â
The second âaccident,â BesanÃ§on said, has to do with the media attacks on the Pope and the Church, which aim to portray the Holy Father as covering up the abuse committed by some members of the clergy, when that has never been the case.
The French historian also made two observations, one about societal history and the other about the Church's understanding of the relationship between sins and crimes.
In the last 50 years, he explained, the definition of sexual crimes has undergone a transformation, with many consensual acts that beforehand were punished severely now often being considered a right. All of the outrage over the sexual crimes of the past is now concentrated completely on the act of pedophilia, BesanÃ§on suggested.
Second, he said, is the fact that the Church sees a distinction in how it treats sins and crimes. âThe Church does not forgive crime, it leaves to the judge the task of punishing it, but the assessment of sin falls to her and is under her jurisdiction. She has the keys to bind or to loose it.â
BesanÃ§on went on to say that the Church holds that man is a sinner and that reality is present in all of her prayers.
âThere exists thus a strange prejudice that causes us to be surprised by the fact that some men, merely because they have embraced the clerical state, are not different or necessarily better than anyone else. Up to now no one has found out how to make men into something other than what they are: proud, greedy, lustful, angry, sinners always. They do not cease to be such just because they undergo a psychological or medical exam beforehand,â he said.
However, he argued, this does not âprevent the media campaign from dragging with it things that will never be accepted: marriage for priests, the ordination of married men, and other such things.â
These things âreveal hatred for the Christian name or a loss of authority and trust in the Catholic Church,â BesanÃ§on said. âIn any case, the Pope must bear the brunt of this confusion. After five years, to me his pontificate is sorrowful.â
âJohn Paul II fought against a monstrous political regime: Communism, but he had society and all of humanity on his side. Benedict XVI has the whole of modern society, born out of the crisis of the 60s, with its new morality and new religiosity, against him.â
Pope Benedict âfinds himself in a situation similar to that of Paul VI after Vatican II, in confronting what he called âthe self-destructionâ of the Church. This time the self-destruction is of all of society, nature and reason. The glory of his pontificate is not visible: it is that of martyrdom.â