There is so much hand-wringing and soul searching over the sexual abuse scandals in the Church – and rightly so – but few seem to recall the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.
The root of a number of problems in the Church can be found in the rejection, by many bishops and priests, of the teaching in this document which really only defined more clearly what the Church had always taught.
While the sexual revolution raged in Western society and people needed clear guidance, all that many pastors offered was a false presentation of "the primacy of conscience": guilt-free sin. Of course, that doesn't really work, and not only do we now have all the consequences of a contraceptive lifestyle, but the guilt-free found out that they felt guilty after all hence we have cafeteria Catholics, empty churches and fewer, weaker, priests.
It is not so much the sexual abuse by a few that has brought the Church all this grief. The disaster has been caused by those bishops and priests who, in seeking a softer option, acquiesced to the spirit of the world and led their flocks astray.
If we were to see a public expression of repentance, from the top down, accompanied by a pastorally sensitive but uncompromised teaching of the truth, confidence in Christ's Church might yet be restored.