Cardinal Séan O’Malley Reacts to Benedict XVI’ Letter

Statement by President of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Cardinal Séan O'Malley
© Vatican Media

Cardinal Séan O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, made a statement on the recent news of Benedict XVI. The pope emeritus wrote a letter last Tuesday, February 8, 2022, in response to the recently published report of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on sexual abuse. It is a text that contains a personal “confession”, as well as the request for forgiveness for the errors and failures that occurred in that context.



“Conscience speaks to us if we are prepared to listen. In today’s message, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has provided us with an intimate description of the drama of his own conscience fashioned by a life of service to God and to his people. The evil suffered by victims of child sexual abuse by priests and religious and his handling of such abuse justly and necessarily weighs heavily on the conscience of the Pope-emeritus.

His sober testimony reflects his awareness that moments of darkness and sinfulness have cruelly scarred survivors of child sexual abuse. Pope Benedict’s acknowledgment of the irreparable harm caused by sexual abuse in the Church and of his own failings to do everything to prevent such harm is a challenge to all those who hold positions of leadership in the Church. We must do better.

To the survivors and all others affected by the evil of sexual abuse, Pope Emeritus Benedict offers his own contrition for what has been lacking in his stewardship. His witness and profound honesty should galvanize all of us to defend survivors of abuse and to protect all those entrusted to our care.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, Cap.