Now that Benedict XVI is stepping down, how do you evaluate his legacy on the sexual abuse scandals?
Based on what I know personally, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he was the first person, and the most determined person, to take on what he called the ‘open wound’ in the body of the church, meaning the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. He came to know about a number of cases, and the intensity of the wounds inflicted on victims. He became aware of what priests had done to minors, and to vulnerable adults. As a result, he became more and more convinced that it has to be tackled, and at various levels he started to deal with it – the canonical level, the ecclesial, and the personal.
Benedict XVI is the first pope who has met with and listened to abuse victims, who has apologized, and who has written about the problem both in his letter to Irish bishops and in the book Light of the World.
One very important step was to concentrate all the legal and administrative procedures at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Another was to appoint a very intelligent, practical and dedicated man as Promoter of Justice.
Read more : Jesuit expert calls Benedict 'great reformer' on sex abuse ~ National Catholic Reporter