In Germany, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI, the priest sex abuse scandal has shaken many young Catholics' trust in the church, if not their faith. The man who initially inspired a new 'Benedict generation' is now seen as out of touch.
Pier Paolo Cito/AP
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband said he was “appalled” by the leaked spoof memo written by an Oxford graduate that caused a minor media storm by suggesting the pope open abortion clinics and bless a gay marriage while in Britain.
But beyond such juvenalia and other late-night TV humor, the global pedophile priest scandal is causing disaffection among a young generation of Catholics.
With waning trust in church institutions and a turn toward “spirituality” among Catholic youths, many German Catholics under 30 have turned away from the pope. While saying they respect Benedict’s learning, young German Catholics don’t identify with Bavarian-born Benedict or with an institution seen as closed, hierarchical, and absolute.
“Benedict is not communicating openly, and that means the church is not addressing its core problems during this [abuse] crisis,” says Geoff Steigler, a 25-year old graduate student in Munich and a believing Catholic. “But the church will have to adjust, since no young people are in the church anymore.”
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