“This is not the way to move forward in the crisis”

In the view of theologian Jan-Heiner Tuck, Pope Francis speaks "a little too often" of the devil. Tuck asks himself how it comes across to victims of sexual abuse when the pope attributes this violence to the work of the devil.

Theology is certainly wrestling with the problem of evil and has presented different interpretations, the Viennese dogmatist told the weekly newspaper "Die Tagespost". But it would be a mistake to use the devil as an explanatory model and to attribute concrete human acts of freedom to "his invisible hand".

According to Tuck, no human being has the definitional authority to directly identify human misconduct as the work of the devil. Whoever portrays people as "agents of Satan" is in danger of halving their moral responsibility and demonizing them. That's why the theologian also considers the papal talk of the devil in connection with sexual abuse "very problematic".

Shifting problem to spiritual level

For him, the question here is how it affects the victims when the head of the Catholic Church attributes sexual violence by priests and religious to children and young people "to the work of the devil and thus shifts the problem from human responsibility to the spiritual level".

It is not the devil that is at ie here, but the concrete failure of priests who have abused minors, and the concrete failure of bishops, those responsible in the ordinariates and the faithful who knew about it, kept quiet and did nothing.

Stepping out of anonymity

Of course it's unpleasant to call a spade a spade, Tuck continues: "But without an unvarnished perception of the facts, we won't get any further in the crisis."The sexual assaults must be dealt with morally and legally.

Instead of going to the level of the theology of sin, systemic factors that promote abuse must first be analyzed. In addition to a taboo on sexuality, they said, this also includes the widespread extent of cover-ups.

Perpetrators have been covered up and victims silenced so as not to endanger the credibility of the "holy church". It was a nuisance that many responsible people had accepted that children and young people had again been exposed to dangers at new places of deployment, "could even become victims". So far, however, no one has dared to step out of anonymity and take personal responsibility for cover-up crimes, Tuck lamented.

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Christina Cherry
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